Matt Biondi retained the gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle and Janet Evans finally got her first world title as things brightened considerably for the United States Wednesday in the World Swimming Championships.

Earlier, Kent Ferguson of Boca Raton, Fla., gave the United States a surprise gold medal in the men's 3-meter springboard diving competition. He turned in a sensational final dive to hold off China's top-rated Tan Liangde and maintain U.S. mastery of the event in world championships."I am in a state of disbelief. Wow, wow, wow!" Ferguson said.

It was a state of relief for American swimmers, who had just one gold medal going into Wednesday.

Biondi and Evans had the air over the Superdrome pool filled with the "Star Spangled Banner" back to back at awards ceremonies, the first time that has happened in the first three days of a meet the Americans were supposed to dominate.

"It's been a long few days," said Evans, who led the 400 freestyle start to finish in 4 minute, 8.63 seconds to beat Hayley Lewis, the Australian teenager who defeated her in the 200 freestyle Tuesday.

Biondi held off Sweden's Tommy Werner in 49.18 to keep the world title he won in Madrid four years ago.

"When I stood on the dais, I thought, `I'm the fastest swimmer in the 100 freestyle on the whole planet," Biondi said. He sang the national anthem on the medals stand, then presented his victory bouquet to a woman standing at poolside.

Both winning times were well off the world records Biondi and Evans hold, 48.42 for the men's 100, 4:03.85 for the women's 400.