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Originally published Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 3:59 AM

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Dutch teammates lead 50 free heats at Olympics

Ranomi Kromowidjojo qualified fastest in the 50-meter freestyle preliminaries on Friday, keeping the Dutch swimmer on track to sweep the sprints at the London Olympics.

AP Sports Writer

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LONDON —

Ranomi Kromowidjojo qualified fastest in the 50-meter freestyle preliminaries on Friday, keeping the Dutch swimmer on track to sweep the sprints at the London Olympics.

She touched in 24.51 seconds during the last morning of heats at the London Aquatics Centre. Kromowidjojo was back in the pool hours after winning the 100 free on Thursday for her country's first gold in the event since Inge de Bruijn won at the 2000 Games. De Bruijn swept the events in Sydney.

Dutch teammate Marleen Veldhuis was second-quickest in 24.57. Francesca Halsall had the British fans cheering loudly for her third-best time of 24.61.

"It was amazing walking out," Halsall said. "The crowd were going mental. You smile because you want them to know you are enjoying it."

Defending Olympic champion and world-record holder Britta Steffen of Germany was fourth in 24.70. She didn't advance to defend her title in the 100 free after sweeping the sprints at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Aliaksandra Herasimenia of Belarus, the silver medalist in the 100, was fifth at 24.76. Therese Alshammar, in her fifth Olympics at 34, moved on in sixth at 24.77. She had been in doubt about competing because of a pinched nerve in her neck.

"You want to have full movement, be able to move unrestricted and over the past two weeks I haven't been able to do that," she said. "When you train a lot you want to be able to participate, so I'm happy I'm through."

The Campbell sisters of Australia moved on after racing in the same heat. Bronte Campbell, two years younger than sister Cate, was ninth-quickest at 24.87.

"I have been racing her for years. She brings a bit of comfort and normality to it," Bronte said. "She's like another swimmer but a bit louder."

Cate, the bronze medalist four years ago in Beijing, tied for 10th with Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden at 24.94. She was surprised by her time and placement after being bothered by a stomach ailment.

"I've been lying on my back for the past two days," she said. "I was happy to get out and swim."

Jessica Hardy of the U.S. was 12th at 24.99. She is better known as a breaststroker, but Hardy didn't qualify for London in either of those events.

"I've got my hands full," she said. "I'm still green in this event. There's a lot of strong freestylers internationally."

Her teammate, Kara Lynn Joyce, was in a three-way tie for 16th, and will compete in a swim-off to earn the last spot in the evening semifinals.

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