Posted by: 4pack | August 12, 2008

Four Pack Hall Of Fame: Jason Lezak’s Anchor Leg Is Stuff Of Legend

http://www.jasonlezak.com/

 

THE INCREDIBLE, HISTORIC FINAL FINISH BY JASON LEZAK IN THE MEN’S 4 x 100 RELAY IS THE INCENTIVE NEEDED TO CREATE A “FOUR PACK HALL OF FAME”….EVEN THOUGH HE IS “ONLY” 32, 32 IN SWIMMING YEARS EQUATES TO OVER 40 TO EVERYONE ELSE…UNBELIEVABLE JASON!

http://www.jasonlezak.com/

August 11, 2008

By ISRAEL GUTIERREZ, Miami Herald

http://www.startribune.com/sports/olympics/26852824.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aULPQL7PQLanchO7DiUl

BEIJING – The pictures, the time difference (.08 seconds) and the French, they will all tell you that the difference between a spine-tingling gold and a buzz-kill silver in the men’s 400 freestyle relay was a fingertip.

Jason Lezak would insist it’s nowhere near that simple.

No way something as miniscule as a fingertip can fully capture how Lezak pulled off one of the greatest, most significant comebacks in swimming history.

In 46.06 seconds of an awe-inspiring anchor leg, Lezak went from doubting himself and accepting a third consecutive failure to instant legend of American swimming. He thought about settling for silver and bronze in the past two Olympic 400-meter relay races, and about his speech to teammates two days earlier about sweeping the relays. He went from trailing French powerhouse sprinter Alain Bernard to using the Frenchman’s lead against him.

When he touched the wall first — yes, by a fingertip — he had completed the most exhilarating, painful, satisfying, historical 46.06 seconds of his career.

When Lezak made the turn for the final 50 meters Monday morning, the picture in front of him looked too familiar. He was behind. Maybe too far behind.

“A lot of the times in the last Olympics, it just wasn’t attainable,” Lezak said of making up deficits. “I just wasn’t going to catch a guy that was two seconds ahead of me.”

But Lezak charged off the wall and got as close to Bernard as he could, drafting off the leader in hopes of making up ground.

“This happened to me my whole career, people getting in my lane line and sucking off of me,” he said. “So I figured this was the one opportunity … to do that.”

Lezak crept back up to Bernard, and his perfectly timed final stroke sent his teammates into a frenzy. Never mind that the team had just destroyed its own world record by nearly four seconds.

Lezak’s 46.06 split was the fastest in the history of the event. His .04 reaction time was almost perfectly timed.

“Jason is the most phenomenal closer I have ever seen in my life,” said Cullen Jones, who swam the third leg of the race.

Jason grew up in Irvine, California and enjoyed all sports as a kid. He excelled in basketball, baseball, soccer, and swimming. He began swimming at age 5 with the Irvine Novaquatics where he still trains today. When he was 10, he had to make a tough decision between the finals of a run, hit, and throw competition at Angel Stadium for baseball and Junior Olympics for swimming. Swimming turned out to be the best choice where he went on to win a couple of events at the competition. That year he held the 2nd fastest time as a 10 year old in both the 50 free and 50 fly.

During the next few years, Jason went through some ups and downs in the sport of swimming. It wasn’t until he quit basketball after his sophomore year of high school when he saw some big improvements again. He continued to improve all through high school making him an All-American his senior year and receiving a scholarship to UC Santa Barbara. College was a huge adjustment for Jason as it is for most, and he did not drop much time his first 2 years. His junior year he turned it around and placed 5th and 6th at NCAA’s in the 50 and 100 freestyle. After he finished his eligibility in 1998, he went on to win his first national title and became a professional athlete.

In 1999 Jason competed in his first major international competition in Australia. Things did not go as well as planned, but it gave him the experience he needed for the future. 2000 was a great year for him, not only making the Olympic team, but medalling in both the 400 free and medley relays. A gold and silver medal would have been a great way to end a career, but Jason still believed that he had room for improvement.

At the 2004 Olympic trials in Long Beach Jason broke the American Record in the 100 freestyle and qualified for both the 50 and 100 freestyle for the Olympic Games. His first race was the 400 freestyle relay which he won a bronze medal. Then in the 100 freestyle his best chance for an individual medal he failed to qualify for the semifinals after making a mental mistake by taking the prelims too lightly. He came back two days later and just missed a medal by taking 5th in the 50 free. To end the Olympic games his 400 medley relay team broke the world record and won the gold medal.


Now Jason continues to train for the 2008 Olympic trials in Omaha to try and earn a spot on his third Olympic team. He will be aiming for that individual medal that he missed in the last Olympics.

   
       
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