Aug. 18, 2008
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Former UC Santa Barbara swimmer Jason Lezak capped off his incredible Olympic Games with another terrific performance, anchoring the men's world-record setting 400-meter medley relay, allowing Michael Phelps to capture his eighth gold medal.
Lezak took a narrow lead of less than one second from Phelps, who entered the water trailing Australia and Japan for the butterfly. Lezak, a 1999 graduate from UCSB, then touched the wall finishing the event in 3 minutes, 29.34 seconds. Australia took silver, finishing in 3:30.04.
The previous world record was set by the Americans in Athens four years ago with a time of 3:30.68.
"I was thinking not to blow the lead," Lezak told The Associated Press. "I was really nervous."
After catching up and then overtaking the two in front of him, Phelps passed off to Lezak while the Australians countered with former world record-holder Eamon Sullivan as their anchor.
Sullivan tried to chase down Lezak and appeared to be gaining as they came to the wall.
Phelps leaned over the blocks, looking to make sure Lezak touched first. Assured the Americans had won, he thrust both index fingers in the air, pumped his right arm and let out a scream.
Lezak helped an American relay team win gold for the second time in the Beijing Olympics, this one following his memorable push in the 4x100 freestyle relay when he stunned France's Alain Bernard completing a come-from-behind victory and keeping Phelps' dream for eight alive.
That dream was completed with Lezak's final swim of these 2008 Olympics.
Lezak also earned an individual bronze medal last week in the 100-meter freestyle, giving him two bronze and three gold medals combined in two Olympic Games.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.