Tammy Crow was on her feet, yelling and waving the American flag while her teammates flipped in the air and spun through the water. The woman who needed a judge's permission to compete at the Olympics is now in contention for a medal.
Russia, Japan and the United States were 1-2-3 after the team technical event, the same places they finished in the duet competition a day earlier.
Crow didn't swim in the technical portion, but she will be flipping in the air as a key part of today's free routine.
"She's totally focused on tomorrow," said Erin Dobratz, who will be replaced by Crow. "I think she's going to give the performance of a lifetime to get a medal."
A judge allowed Crow to travel to Athens after she pleaded no contest to two counts of vehicular manslaughter in the 2003 deaths of her boyfriend and a 12-year-old boy. She was sentenced to three months in jail and will report in October.
The U.S. team of Alison Bartosik, Dobratz, Rebecca Jasontek, Anna Kozlova, Sara Lowe, Lauren McFall, Stephanie Nesbitt and Kendra Zanotto performed to a marching band medley, featuring pounding drums that conjured up images of a college football halftime show.
"It's a very difficult program. It's the fastest one out there," U.S. Coach Chris Carver said. "We took a risk, but we're sitting in third right now. It was worth the risk."