Inge de Bruijn of the Netherlands qualified first for the 50-meter freestyle Friday in a bid to defend her Olympic title at age 30.
She won her preliminary heat in 24.66 seconds -- well off her world record of 24.13 set at the Sydney Games.
"I felt good and smooth in the water,'' she said.
Australia's Grant Hackett, the defending Olympic champion in the 1,500 freestyle, qualified third in the event, which has been won by the Aussies for
three consecutive Olympics. David Davies of Britain was first in 14 minutes, 57.08 seconds, the only man to swim less than 15 minutes.
American Larsen Jensen made Saturday's final, but teammate Erik Vendt failed to move on.
The U.S. men and women both easily qualified for the 400 medley relay finals, set for Saturday. Michael Phelps moved the men from second to first on
his butterfly leg. The women were second-fastest behind Australia.
De Bruijn has won a silver and two bronze medals in Athens. She won three golds in Sydney, and feels the weight of expectations this time.
"Everyone expects the same thing, but I'm four years older, four years further along,'' she said. "People seem to be disappointed, but I'm totally
happy. Of course, I'm aiming for gold. I'll be trying to win.''
Kara Lynn Joyce of Ann Arbor, Mich., advanced in 25.06, the second-fastest time. Malia Metella of France was third in 25.21.
Joyce's only international medal was a gold in the 50 free at last year's Pan American Games.
"For a morning swim, it was one of my best times,'' she said. "I'm pretty happy with that.''
American Jenny Thompson finished 11th in 25.50, good enough to make the evening's 16-woman semifinal but a long shot to win her record 12th career
medal and first individual gold. All but two of her medals have come in relays.
"I felt a little bit rusty after four days off,'' she said. "My time isn't where I want it to be. I look to be a lot better tonight and qualify for
Thompson, a 31-year-old in her fourth Olympics, is tied with swimmers Mark Spitz and Matt Biondi and shooter Carl Osburn for most career medals among
Lisbeth Lenton of Australia was seventh, and Therese Alshammar of Sweden, the 2000 silver medalist, was 10th.
In the grueling 1500 -- nearly a mile swim -- Yuri Prilukov of Russia qualified second in 15:02.02. Hackett, the world-record holder, was third in
15:01.89. He will be the overwhelming favorite to become just the fifth man to win two 1,500 titles.
"I really didn't push it too much,'' Hackett said. "I didn't want to put too much into it. Tomorrow night is going to be tough.''
Jensen of Bakersfield, Calif., led all the way in his heat, winning in 15:03.75. He and Vendt are among only three Americans to break 15 minutes.
"I felt great the whole race,'' Jensen said. "Don't count anybody out.''
Vendt was second after 400 meters, but gradually fell back. He finished 16th in 15:20.00 -- missing the eight-man final by a wide margin.
"I'm very disappointed,'' said Vendt, who was sixth four years ago in Sydney. "For the first 300 or 400 meters, I was feeling pretty good. Then people
starting moving up on me and I didn't have anything left. It seemed like everything was moving in slow motion.''
Vendt of North Easton, Mass., won a silver behind teammate Michael Phelps in last week's 400 freestyle.
In the men's 400 medley relay, the United States was fastest in 3:35.10. The Americans are 10-for-10 in the event, which virtually assures Phelps of a
record eighth medal in Athens. He already had six, including four golds, going into Friday night's 100 butterfly final.
Lenny Krayzelburg led off and turned the lead over to Mark Gangloff, who was outdueled by double Olympic breaststroke champion Kosuke Kitajima of
Japan. Phelps restored the Americans' lead before Neil Walker brought them home.
"All of us had pretty good splits,'' Krayzelburg said.
Germany was second in 3:36.65 and Britain third in 3:36.94. Australia, the 2000 silver medalist, surprisingly didn't make the final, finishing ninth
in 3:39.14 -- 0.29 seconds out of a berth.
In the women's medley relay, the Australian team of Giaan Rooney, Brooke Hanson, Jess Schipper and Alice Mills finished first in 4:01.17. The Aussies
lost to the Americans in Atlanta and Sydney.
Americans Haley Cope, Tara Kirk, Rachel Komisarz and Amanda Weir were second in 4:02.82. The United States holds the world record and has won three
straight Olympic titles.
Germany was third in 4:04.16.