Who’s America’s Top 100-meter Freestyler? Lezak Settles the Question

By Phillip Whitten

LONG BEACH, Calif., July 11. JASON Lezak reaffirmed his place as America’s premier sprinter tonight, winning the 100-meter freestyle handily in 48.41 seconds and defeating challengers Ian Crocker and Gary Hall, Jr.

Lezak had “number one” stamped on his efforts in each round of the 100 free. He swam 48.79 in prelims yesterday, then followed it up with a world-leading and American record 48.17 in the semifinals.

In tonight’s final, he took command of the race at the start, getting off the blocks faster than his seven rivals and emerging from his dive in the lead. Turning in 22.94, he lengthened his lead on the back half of the race, touching in 48.41 seconds. Ian Crocker, who set a short course world record in this event in March, took the second spot in 49.06, one-tenth of a second ahead of Gary Hall, Jr. Hall had a very slow start, getting off the blocks a tenth of a second behind Crocker, a difference that turned out to be the ultimate differential between the two thoroughbreds.

With his third place finish, Hall was named to the US squad in the 400 free relay and became a part of US Olympic history. At 29, he is the oldest US male Olympic swimmer since Duke Kahanamoku in 1924. Lenny Krayzelburg, 28, had earned that distinction only two days ago. The oldest woman was Dara Torres, who was 33 in 2000.

Hall also joins his dad, Dr. Gary Hall, Sr., as the first father-son duo to each swim on three US Olympic teams. It’s something in those genes….

Asked about the posibility of breaking the 48-second barrier, something only Pieter van den Hoogenband has done, Lezak said: "We'll see what happens in Athens. I am going to give it my best shot. It's all about placing, not time."

A grinning Gary Hall, Jr., said: "I am real happy. I just qualified for my third Olympics. Anyone here will tell you it's hard to make one Olympic team. I just hope this hasn't taken too much out of me for the 50."

Neil Walker, who won this event at the 2000 Trials, finished fourth. Nate Dusing was fifth and, in a surprise, Lezak’s training partner, Gabe Woodward, took the sixth spot (49.68).

Interestingly, the eight finalists finished in the same order as they did in the semifinals.


Event 14 Men 100 LC Meter Freestyle
World: W 47.84 9/19/2000 Pieter van den Hoogenband, NED
American: A 48.17 7/10/2004 Jason Lezak, Irvine Nova
U.S. Open: O 48.17 7/10/2004 Jason Lezak, Irvine Nova
Meet: M 48.17 7/10/2004 Jason Lezak, Irvine Nova
Oly. Tr. Cut: 51.19
Name Age Team Semis Finals
=== Finals ===

1 Lezak, Jason 28 Irvine Novaquati 48.17 48.41
22.94 48.41 (25.47)
2 Crocker, Ian 21 Longhorn Aquatic 49.29 49.06
23.06 49.06 (26.00)
3 Hall, Gary 29 California Aquat 49.30 49.16
23.14 49.16 (26.02)
4 Walker, Neil 28 Longhorn Aquatic 49.44 49.38
23.00 49.38 (26.38)
5 Dusing, Nate 25 Longhorn Aquatic 49.56 49.40
23.42 49.40 (25.98)
6 Woodward, Gabriel 25 Unattached/USC 49.67 49.45
23.81 49.45 (25.64)
7 Weber-Gale, Garrett 18 Longhorn Aquatic 49.68 49.68
23.80 49.68 (25.88)
8 Muhammad, Sabir 28 California Aquat 49.70 50.13
23.14 50.13 (26.99)

=== Semi-Finals ===

9 Wochomurka, Ryan 21 Auburn Aquatics/ 49.71
10 Brunelli, Nicholas 22 Arizona State/Su 49.80
11 Tucker, Scott 29 Irvine Novaquati 50.11
12 Silkaitis, Terrence 20 Minnesota Aquati 50.15
13 Rogers, Dale 21 Wisconsin Aquati 50.26
14 Grevers, Matt 19 Northwestern U./ 50.30
15 Jones, Bryan 25 Longhorn Aquatic 50.66
16 Bal, Randall 23 Stanford Swimmin 50.82

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