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AMERICAN SWIMMERS GIVE U.S. BIG BOOST IN GOLD MEDAL COUNT

American swimmers won three races and broke two records Monday at the University Games, boosting the United States into a tie with Japan for the lead in gold medals.

Tobie Smith slashed 21 seconds off the games record in the women's 1,500-meter freestyle, winning in 16 minutes, 20.58 seconds. Teammate Julie Millis was second in 16:34.01.The Americans broke another games record in the women's 4 x 100-meter medley relay, winning in 4:10.49. Japan was second in 4:11.55.

Tom Wilkens of Stanford took the lead from Japan's Jo Yoshimi on the third length - the breaststroke portion - and won the men's 200 individual medley in 2:02.96, with Yoshimi second in 2:03.40.

Jason Lancaster of Michigan, the 100 butterfly gold medalist, was third in 2:03.64 and - less than an hour later - took another bronze in the 200-meter backstroke.

Japan was held to a single swimming gold, and its tied with the United States at 15 gold, though Japan led 43 to 42 in total medals.

South Korea and Bulgaria were the day's biggest winners with four golds each.

Rhythmic gymnastics world champion Maria Petrova of Bulgaria added gold medals in the ribbon, clubs, ball and rope events with perfect 10s in all but the rope, where she scored 9.975.

The Koreans won both the men's and women's team events in judo, and added golds in swimming and gymnastics.

South Korea had eight golds, Russia seven, and China and Bulgaria five each.

Mexico won its first gold, in men's 3-meter springboard diving, and Germany took gold in the women's one-meter competition.

China, Hungary and Belarus each gained two golds Monday in gymnastics.

For Belarus, Vitali Scherbo, who won six golds at the 1992 Olympics but has been bothered by injuries recently, had to settle for one, in the vault, and two silvers.

Croatia had one gymnastics gold.

South Korea's Ji Sang-joon won the backstroke in 2:01.19, with Japan's Ryuji Horii second in 2:01.32 and Lancaster third in 2:01.96.

Japan's Fumie Kurotori, already the gold medalist at 400 meters, won the women's 200-meter individual medley in 2:17.00. Lenka Manhalova of the Czech Republic was second in 2:17.20 and Slovakia's Martina Moravcova, the 100 freestyle winner, was third in 2:17.36.

After 29 swimming events, the Americans have 14 gold medals and Japan has six. Swimming concludes with five races on Tuesday.