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Swimming

Former UCSB Swimming Great Jason Lezak Swims Dramatic Anchor Leg to Deliver Gold in 4x100 Free Relay

8/10/2008

Former UC Santa Barbara swimmer Jason Lezak swam a clutch anchor leg of the 4x100 free relay final Sunday, delivering the gold medal to the United States in what some called the greatest relay race in Olympic history.

Entering the pool with his club in second place, the former Gaucho eventually caught Frenchman Alain Bernard with one final lunge at the wall. Lezak, who at 32 is the oldest swimmer on the United States men's swim team, was nearly a full body length behind the Frenchman at the final turn, but hugged the lane rope and overtook him to win by a fingertip.

"This has been happening my whole career," Lezak said. "People have gotten on my lane line and sucked off of me, so I figured this is the one opportunity in my whole career to do that."

Not only was the time of 3:08.24 a new world record, but it gave the Americans the gold in the relay for the first time since the 1996 Games in Atlanta, Ga.

After completing his stunning comeback, Lezak was still in awe over what he had done.

"I knew I was going to have to swim out of my mind," Lezak said. "Still right now, I'm in disbelief."

Lezak, who graduted from UC Santa Barbara in 1999, still holds the Big West overall record in the 50 free (19.67) and the conference Championship record in the 100 free (43.68). His Big West Championship record in the 50 free (19.89) was broken this past February by current Gaucho Brad Matsumoto (19.83), a mark that had stood since 1997.

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