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Day 5: 1997 European Championships -- August 24, 1997

SEVILLE, Spain - Olympic gold medalist Alexander Popov collected his third gold medal with a smooth victory in the men's 50m freestyle on Saturday.

Popov, who had already won the 100m freestyle and led Russia to victory in the 400m freestyle relay, won in a time of 22.30, the fastest in the world this year. Britain's Mark Foster won the silver medal in 22.53 and Frenchman Julien Sicot the bronze in 22.78.

Franck Esposito took back his 200m butterfly title he last won in 1991, surging through in the last 15m to pass Ukraine's Denis Silantiev for the gold. Olympic gold medalist Denis Pankratov failed to make the final. Britain's Stephen Parry took the bronze in 1:58.78.

Russia's Oxana Verevka won the women's 200 IM in the absence of Michelle de Bruin of Ireland, who pulled out because she was tired out by her heavy program.

Germany's Kerstin Kielgass, who lost her 200m freestyle title to De Bruin on Wednesday, got some revenge with her victory in the women's 800m freestyle.

The biggest cheer of the day went to Spain's Martin Zubero who won his fourth European 100m backstroke title to the delight of the hometown fans. The American-based Zubero became a Spanish national hero when he won the 200m backstroke gold medal at the 1992 Olympics.