Cyrus Beasley's right oar grabbed too much water and messed up his start in the men's single sculls' repechage at Gainesville, Ga., but he recovered to edge Italy's Giovanni Calabrese for second place.
Only the top two finishers advance to Thursday's semifinal.
He quickly fell behind Calabrese and heat winner Sergio Fernandez of Argentina. But Beasley rowed smoothly and caught up to Calabrese at the 1,000-meter mark.
Americans Michael Peterson of Glastonbury, Conn., and Adam Holland of Philadelphia advanced in coxless pairs by winning their race with the fastest time in three heats.