Top That!

08.15.08 | Comment?

Let’s say you’re trying to win an Olympic swimming event. Let’s say it’s the 100 meter freestyle. And let’s say your main opponent is the world record holder.

Not hard enough? Let’s give him a head start.

That’s essentially what Jason Lezak, anchor leg of the American 4×100 Freestyle Relay team, faced when he hit the water. France’s Alain Bernard was handed the lead by third-leg swimmer Frederick Bousquet, who swam his leg in 46.63 seconds, fastest split of the relay to that point and the only swimmer to swim below 47 seconds.

After 50 meters, Lezak trailed Bernard by a little over half a length. He later admitted that for a moment he thought “there’s no way” he was catching the Frenchman, who ended up with the third-fastest split of the relay at 46.73. But he pushed those thoughts away and swam the race of his life.

With 30 meters to go, the announces said that the USA should be able to “hold on to second place”, but Lezak had other ideas. He proceeded to chase down Bernard and out-touch him by eight hundredths of a second. For his hundred meters he swam 46.06, fastest split ever by over half a second. I just got finished watching the video and I end up yelling every time I do. There’s no way that Lezak should have been able to win, but he dug deep and pulled it out, reminding me of nothing so much as Billy Mills’ dash to the finish at the 1964 Olympics.

I guess there’s a good reason that Lezak, and not Michael Phelps, is the closer on this team.

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