Aug. 7, 2006
IRVINE, Calif. - Former UC Santa Barbara swimmer Jason Lezak, swimming in his hometown of Irvine, Calif., captured the title in the 100 freestyle at the 2006 ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Championships on Friday.
Lezak, who now swims for Irvine Novaquatics, set a meet record with a time of 48.63, topping Neil Walker of Longhorn Aquatics who recorded a time of 49.23. Cullen Jones of North Carolina State Aquatics was third at 49.35. Not only was Lezak's time a meet record, it was also the fastest 100 freestyle time by an American in 2006. He also owns the U.S. record in the event, set at the Olympic Trials in 2004, at 48.17.
"I'm excited," Lezak said. "Not just to win a national championship, but to do it here in front of my home crowd. I couldn't be more thrilled right now. This is my race right now, and until someone takes me down in it, I still have the American record."
Lezak jumped out to a lead from the start and was ahead of world record pace at the 50. He fell off that pace down the stretch, but by that time the title had been secured.
"I don't know what my split was going out, but I saw I was pretty far ahead," Lezak said. "I know I may have pushed it a little more than I wanted to, because it was painful to finish. I just tried to drive it into the wall."
In addition to his first-place finish in the 100 freestyle, Lezak finished third in the 50 freestyle with a time of 22.22. Jones won the event at 21.94 and Stanford's Ben Wildman-Tobriner was second at 22.16.