The United States swim team had very little to Yankee-doodle-dandy about tonight at the World University Games. The Soviet Union provided the fireworks, winning five gold medals in five events, leaving crumbs for the U.S. and Canada.
The U.S. picked up three silver medals and a bronze, and appeared to be on the way to a gold in the evening's final event--the women's 4x100 freestyle relay. The American women led after the second turn, thanks to UCLA's Julie Williams split time of 56.60.
The Soviets, with Tatiana Kurnikova, pulled slightly ahead at the third turn, but Tammy Thomas of Kansas propelled her 6-foot-1 frame from the platform and swam stroke for stroke with Irina Laricheva for the final 100 meters.
"I didn't even look at her until the 75-meter mark," Thomas said. "I was going as hard as I could. I just didn't have any more to give."
As a result, Laricheva finished one arm stroke ahead of Thomas, giving the Soviets a winning time of 3:49.19 to the Americans' 3:50.19.
The other American silver medalists were Marybeth Linzmeier of Stanford and Tom Jager of UCLA.
Linzmeier never had much chance of overtaking Laricheva, who won the 400-meter freestyle and became the first athlete at the '83 Universiade to win three individual golds.
Jager led for about 75 meters of the men's 100 freestyle, but was caught and passed in the final quarter by Sergey Smiryagin, who set a Universiade record, 50.51.
The Soviet men overpowered the rest of the field in the 200-meter backstroke, as Sergey Zaboltnov posted the second best time in the world this year (2:00.42).
The fifth Soviet gold medal was won by Larisa Gorchakova in the women's 100-meter backstroke.
"The Soviets brought all their top swimmers, but we have a bunch of inexperienced kids," said Thomas. "We still have the top swimmers in the world. But for those of us who are inexperienced, this is exactly what we needed."
"Everybody did their best time," said U.S. Coach Sam Freas. "I thought it was super."
In basketball, both U.S. teams stayed unbeaten. The men claimed a 106-65 victory over the Ivory Coast; the women had only a little more difficulty, beating France, 74-58.