Swimming at the 2008 Summer Olympics – Men's 4 × 100 metre freestyle relay
|Men's 4×100 metre freestyle relay
at the Games of the XXIX Olympiad
The medal ceremony of the event.
|Venue||Beijing National Aquatics Center|
|Dates||August 10, 2008 (heats)
August 11, 2008 (final)
|Competitors||72 from 16 nations|
|Winning time||3:08.24 WR|
|Swimming events at the
2008 Summer Olympics
The U.S. men's team dominated the race from the start but fell behind in the third leg, and came from behind to set a new world record and most importantly, to capture the elusive freestyle relay title after 12 years. Diving into the pool at the final exchange, Jason Lezak chased down world record-holder Frenchman Alain Bernard on the 50-metre final length and touched the wall first with a scintillating anchor time of 46.06, the fastest ever split in the event's history, to deliver the foursome of Michael Phelps (47.51, an American record), Garrett Weber-Gale (47.02), and Cullen Jones (47.65) a gold-medal time in 3:08.24.
France's Amaury Leveaux (47.91), Fabien Gilot (47.05), and Frédérick Bousquet (46.63) delivered Bernard a lead on the anchor by more than a half-second advantage (0.50), but Bernard's split of 46.73 was almost a full second behind Lezak, leaving them with silver in a European record of 3:08.32. Meanwhile, Eamon Sullivan smashed the world record split of 47.24 to hand the Aussies an early lead, but his teammates Andrew Lauterstein (47.87), Ashley Callus (47.55), and Matt Targett (47.25) could not maintain the pace in the succeeding laps to end the race with a bronze-medal time of 3:09.91.
Italy's Alessandro Calvi (48.49), Christian Galenda (47.49), Marco Belotti (48.23), and Filippo Magnini (47.27) finished fourth in 3:11.65, while the Swedish foursome of Petter Stymne (49.17), five-time Olympian Lars Frölander (48.02), Stefan Nystrand (47.25), and Jonas Persson (47.48) cracked a 3:12-barrier to earn a fifth spot in 3:11.92. Outside the club, Canada's Brent Hayden (47.56, a national record), Joel Greenshields (47.77), Colin Russell (48.49), and three-time Olympian Rick Say (48.44) posted a sixth-place time of 3:12.26, while defending Olympic champions and South African quartet of Lyndon Ferns (48.15), Darian Townsend (48.11), Roland Mark Schoeman (48.32), and Ryk Neethling (48.08) produced a seventh-place effort and an African record of 3:12.66 to lower their standard by more than half a second. Great Britain's Simon Burnett (48.34), Adam Brown (47.75), Benjamin Hockin (48.50), and Ross Davenport (48.28) rounded out the field in eighth place at 3:12.87. Due to the presence of technology suits in the pool, all eight teams completed a historic relay finish under a 3:13-barrier.
Earlier in the prelims, the U.S. men's team of Nathan Adrian (48.82), Cullen Jones (47.61), Ben Wildman-Tobriner (48.03), and Matt Grevers (47.77) took down the world record of 3:12.23 to cut off their own standard by 23-hundredths of a second.
Prior to this competition, the existing world and Olympic records were as follows.
|World record|| United States (USA)
Michael Phelps (48.83)
Neil Walker (47.89)
Cullen Jones (47.96)
Jason Lezak (47.78)
|3:12.46||Victoria, Canada||19 August 2006|||
|Olympic record|| South Africa (RSA)
Roland Mark Schoeman (48.17)
Lyndon Ferns (48.13)
Darian Townsend (48.96)
Ryk Neethling (47.91)
|3:13.17||Athens, Greece||15 August 2004||-|
The following new world and Olympic records were set during this competition.
|August 10||Heat 1||Nathan Adrian (48.82)
Cullen Jones (47.61)
Ben Wildman-Tobriner (48.03)
Matt Grevers (47.77)
|United States||3:12.23||WR, OR|
|August 11||Final||Michael Phelps (47.51) AM
Garrett Weber-Gale (47.02)
Cullen Jones (47.65)
Jason Lezak (46.06)
|United States||3:08.24||WR, OR|
New records and feats
In the heats, the United States team set a world record with a team missing some of America's major stars such as Michael Phelps. France and Australia also went faster than the old record even though they rested Alain Bernard and Eamon Sullivan respectively. During the heats, all five of the continental records were broken.
In the final, the United States, France, Australia, Italy, and Sweden teams all finished within the World Record time set by the American team in the heats, the Canada team finished within what was the World record prior to the 2008 Olympics, and all of the teams finished within what was the Olympic record prior to the 2008 Olympics. The world record time was reduced by over 2% during the course of the heats and the final. Italy and Sweden failed to medal despite besting the previous world record.
The faster times can also be seen in contrast to the 2004 Olympics in Athens, in which the South African squad took home the gold medal in world-record fashion. South Africa returned all four members of that 2004 relay team to these Olympics, and they even bettered their previous world-record time by 0.51 s, yet they finished a distant 7th place in Beijing. In fact, all 8 teams swimming in the 2008 finals swam faster than South Africa's gold medal swim of 2004.
It is also possible for the swimmers in the first leg to break records for the 100 m freestyle. In the heats, Amaury Leveaux of France broke the Olympic record, while the world record fell to Australian Eamon Sullivan in the final. Split times for swimmers not swimming the first leg are ineligible because the incoming swimmer can lean over in front of the blocks and be diving as the preceding swimmer is coming in, whereas the leadoff swimmer is timed from a stationary start. Thus, the world record was Sullivan's, even though five swimmers in the finals alone had faster times, including Jason Lezak, whose 46.06 seconds is the fastest individual leg in a 100 m freestyle or medley relay in history. Two days later, Alain Bernard reclaimed the record for France, recording a 47.20 time in the first semifinal of the 100m freestyle, only to have Sullivan break the record again, winning the second semifinal in 47.05 seconds.
The final included a dramatic finish with American Jason Lezak swimming the final 50 meters 0.9 seconds faster than Frenchman Alain Bernard to win the race. He also swam the fastest relay split in history. Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines had the call on NBC:
|“||The United States trying to hang on to second; they should get the silver medal; Australia is in Bronze territory right now, but Lezak is closing a little bit on Bernard. Can the veteran chase him down and pull off a shocker here? Well, there's no doubt that he's tightening up! Bernard is losing some ground, here comes Lezak... UNBELIEVABLE AT THE END, HE'S DONE IT! THE U.S. HAS DONE IT! HE DID IT! HE DID IT! A world record! Phelps's hopes [are] alive!||”|
|“||That might be the most incredible relay split I've ever seen in my entire life. 46 flat, not only was that the fastest in history, it BLEW AWAY the fastest in history!||”|
|August 11, 2008||Final||Eamon Sullivan||Australia||47.24||World Record (100 m freestyle)|
|August 11, 2008||Final||Michael Phelps||United States||47.51||Americas Record (100 m freestyle)|
|August 11, 2008||Final||Brent Hayden||Canada||47.56||National Record (100 m freestyle)|
|August 10, 2008||Heat 2||Amaury Leveaux||France||47.76||Olympic Record (100 m freestyle)|
|August 10, 2008||Heat 2||César Cielo||Brazil||47.91||Americas Record (100 m freestyle)|
|August 10, 2008||Heat 2||Simon Burnett||Great Britain||48.20||National Record (100 m freestyle)|
- "Olympic Swimming Schedule". USA Today. 9 August 2008. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
- Abrahamson, Alan (11 August 2008). "Lezak's classic finish delivers gold". Beijing 2008. NBC Olympics. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
- Longman, Jere (11 August 2008). "As Swimming Records Fall, Technology Muddies the Water". New York Times. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
- "'Fab four' need world record". News24. 10 August 2008. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
- "Record swim came 'quite easily': Sullivan". ABC News Australia. 11 August 2008. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
- Lohn, John (10 August 2008). "Olympics, Swimming: United States Crushes World Record in 400 Free Relay, Eamon Sullivan Claims 100 Free Global Standard". Swimming World Magazine. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
- Lohn, John (10 August 2008). "Olympics, Swimming: United States Breaks World Record in 400 Free Relay Prelim". Swimming World Magazine. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
- "U.S. men set world record in 400 free relay". NBC News. 10 August 2008. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
- Shipley, Amy (20 August 2006). "Peirsol sets backstroke record, Phelps fades". The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
- Olivier Poirier-Leroy. "Jason Lezak and the Greatest Relay Leg of All Time". YourSwimLog.com. Retrieved July 30, 2016.