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Pilczuk Dethrones Popov; Bennett, Munz Finish One-Two In 800m Free -- January 17, 1998

From www.usswim.org - PERTH, AUSTRALIA - American Bill Pilczuk upset two-time Olympic champion and defending World Champion Alexander Popov of Russia in the 50m freestyle here tonight at the World Championships.

Pilczuk, 25, of Cape May Pointe, N.J., exploded from the blocks for the early lead and never relinquished it, winning in a lifetime best of 22.29. Popov was second at 22.43. Ricardo Busquets of Puerto Rico and Australia's Michael Klim tied for third in 22.47.

"I tell you what, boy, I wasn’t expecting that," Pilczuk said. "My first reaction was ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’

"The furthest thing in my mind was winning it. My whole goal here was to make finals, then after prelims when I saw I could be a medalist, I was hoping to medal. To get first is beyond my dreams."

Popov's loss ended his historic string of victories in major competitions stretching back seven years, including two Olympic Games, the 1994 World Championships, and three European Championships.

Neil Walker, 21, of Verona, Wis., was fifth with a 22.50, only 0.03 seconds away from a bronze.

Earlier in the evening, the Americans scored a one-two punch in the 800m freestyle. Brooke Bennett, 17, of Plant City, Fla., won with an 8:28.71. Diana Munz, 15, of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, was second with an 8:29.97.