The United States won 14 gold medals in the World Aquatic Championships at Guayaquil, Ecuador, last summer, but only eight came in the basic swimming competition.
Four were earned by a sweep of the diving events, two in synchronized swimming. In each of these sports, the U.S. is a heavy favorite to dominate Olympic competition as well.
Greg Louganis, 23, who took both men's diving gold medals in the recent FINA World Cup in Texas, as well as at Guayaquil, is generally considered the best in the world. He was the silver medalist in the platform event at Montreal in 1976.
U.S. women will be challenged by the rapidly improving Chinese. Li Yi Hua won the springboard title at the World Cup and Zhou Ji Hong was best on the platform. However, the U.S. world champions, Megan Neyer in springboard and Wendy Wyland in platform, did not compete.
In synchronized swimming, Tracie Ruiz, 19, is the best in the world. She won the figure and solo titles at Guayaquil and teamed with Candy Costie to take the duet silver behind Canadians Sharon Hambrook and Kelly Kryczka. Canada edged the U.S. for team honors and the two nations figure to have another close contest in the Pan American Games.
The U.S. men are automatic qualifiers for the Olympic water polo competition, where they hope to improve on their sixth-place finish at Guayaquil. First, they face a battle with Cuba in the Pan Am Games.
The U.S. captured an Olympic bronze medal at Munich, then failed to qualify for the 1976 Games at Montreal. It last won an Olympic gold in 1904 and cannot realistically expect one in 1984, with the Soviets and Hungarians currently dominating the sport.
The Soviets finished with a 5-1-1 record in the FINA Cup Water Polo World Cup which concluded Saturday at Pepperdine University. West Germany finished second, Italy third, and the U.S. fourth in the round robin competition.