Four-time gold medalist Jason Lezak, competing in what is likely his final Olympics, helped the American swim team qualify for the 4x100-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).
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.”