Anchored the Historic Gold Medal Winning 4x100m Men's Freestyle Relay team and Gold Medal Winning 4x100m Men's Medley Relay team at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games
The oldest U.S. male swimmer in Beijing at age 32, Jason Lezak won his first individual medal at the 2008 Olympics, tying for third in the 100m freestyle, but he'll be most remembered in Beijing for his stirring anchor leg in the 4x100m free relay. Lezak came from behind to touch out Alain Bernard of France, who later went on to win individual gold in the 100m. Lezak's split, 46.06 seconds, was the fastest in history.
Lezak qualified for his third Olympics by finishing second in the 100m freestyle at Olympic Trials. Lezak set the American record in the event in semifinals, and his time of 47.58 sets him up as the likely anchor of the 4x100m free relay in Beijing. Lezak was a member of the first U.S. team to lose that race at the Olympics, falling to Australia in 2000, and again when the U.S. lost to South Africa in 2004.
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.
By Julian Linden, BEIJING (Reuters) - Jason Lezak's incredible anchor leg swim that gave the United States the gold medal in the men's 4x100 meters freestyle relay on Monday may have seemed like history repeating.
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