Jason Lezak likely closes Olympics career with a silver medal


Four-time gold medalist Jason Lezak, competing in what is likely his final Olympics, helped the American swim team qualify for the 4×100-meter freestyle relay finals.

Lezak swam in the morning preliminaries on July 29 but did not compete that evening in the finals, when the United States took silver.

It was Lezak’s eighth medal overall in four Olympics. His gold medals have come as a member of relay teams; he won an individual bronze at the Beijing Games in 2008.

The Americans led all the way in the July 29 final until Yannick Agnel of France pulled ahead of Ryan Lochte in the final lap. France finished first in 3 minutes, 9.93 seconds, ahead of the United States (3:10.38) and Russia (3:11.41).

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The race was similar to four years ago in Beijing, when Lezak overtook the French world record-holder Alain Bernard in the final 25 meters despite being nearly a full body length behind on the last lap. It was the fastest 100-meter freestyle split in history, by nearly six-tenths of a second, and earned victory for the United States and kept alive Michael Phelps’ drive for a record-setting eight gold medals.

Lezak, who was inducted into the National Jewish Hall of Fame in 2010, helped Lochte and Phelps qualify for the relay’s finals.

“The coaches had a tough decision to make with so many talented 100 freestylers and then the two best all-around swimmers in the world,” Lezak told FOXSports.com late on July 29 via e-mail.

Lezak, 36, has not specifically said this is his last Olympics, but he is the oldest swimmer on the U.S. men’s squad.

Since his historic comeback at the Beijing Olympics, Lezak has participated in Israel’s Maccabiah Games, winning four gold medals last summer, and has taught swimming clinics for neighborhood kids at the Merage Jewish Community Center of Orange County in Southern California.

Lezak has two children and is an active member of Temple Isaiah in Newport Beach.

“It’s something for me to get in touch more with Jewish kids and hopefully inspire them,” he said. “I really didn’t have anyone like that growing up.”

Jason Lezak earns first individual medal


BEIJING (JTA)—Jewish Olympic swimmer Jason Lezak followed up his relay heroics with a bronze medal in the 100-meter men’s freestyle.

Lezak, whose late dash in the 4 x 100-meter men’s freestyle relay propelled the U.S. team to the gold medal and a world record, finished in a time of 47.67 seconds Wednesday at the Water Cube in Beijing. He trailed Alain Bernard of France at 47.21 seconds and Australian Eamon Sullivan at 47.32.

For Lezak, at 32 the oldest male swimmer to ever qualify for an Olympic team, it was his first individual medal in his third Olympic Games. He had won five relay medals, including three gold.

“That’s what’s been driving me the last four years since Athens,” Lezak said when asked how it feels to earn his first individual medal.  “It definitely feels good.”

Lezak, of Irvine, Calif., had overtaken Bernard in Monday’s 4 x 100 freestyle relay. Bernard and Sullivan had exchanged the world record in the semifinals.

Report from Beijing: Swapping old Jewish swim records for new ones


BEIJING (JTA)—Jewish-American swimmers Garret Weber-Gale and Jason Lezak, along with Cullen Jones and the unstoppable Olympic champion Michael Phelps, made history in the pool on Monday, August 11.

The US relay team won the Men’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay and smashed the world record by nearly four seconds on their way to the gold.

In a strange Jewish sports irony, the gold for this half-Jewish team may come at a price to the legacy of an iconic Jewish sports figure.

Phelps needed this gold medal to help him on his quest to break legendary Jewish swimmer Mark Spitz’s 36- year-old ” alt=”ALTTEXT” width=”432″ height=”441″ />

Mark Spitz, sports icon

Irvine’s Jason Lezak anchors 400-meter relay swim team for the gold


“I can’t even explain it, it was unreal. I’ve been a part of the two teams at the last two Olympics that came out behind, and I think I wanted it more than anybody, not just for myself, but to show that we are the nation to be beat in that relay, ” Jason Lezak told the Los Angeles Times

Lezak swam the final lap for the 400-meter team (including Michael Phelps), which won another gold for the U.S. That makes three Jewish medallists to date; Americans swimmer Dara Torres, swimming relay, and Sada Jacobson, fencing, have both earned silver.

Lezak, born in Irvine, has four Olympic medals. He was on a gold-medal-winning medley relay team, and won gold as a member of the medley relay team in Sydney.

He also has a silver medal from swimming on the 4×100 freestyle relay in Sydney and a bronze in the same event from Athens.

Lezak and another Jewish swimmer, Garrett Weber-Gale, comprised half the U.S. squad with Michael Phelps and Cullen Jones. The Americans finished Monday’s race in 3:08.24, erasing the world mark by about 4 seconds.

Lezak swam 46.06 seconds in managing to overtake world record-holder Alain Bernard of France. Lezak, who picked up his third career gold medal, trailed by nearly a second heading into the final lap. His time would have beaten his American record in the 100 freestyle.

Weber-Gale followed Phelps’ opening leg with a time of 47.02.

The U.S. team had beaten the world mark in the qualifying round with a team that did not include Lezak or Phelps but did have Ben Wildman-Tobriner, another Jewish swimmer.

Phelps has now earned two gold medals in his bid to win eight and break the mark of seven set by Mark Spitz, also a Jewish swimmer, in the 1972 Games in Munich.

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