Jason Lezak, Fred Bousquet Detail Behind the Scenes Stories of the 4×100 Freestyle Relay in Beijing

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Jason Lezak getting inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019. Photo Courtesy: JM STREINER

Jason Lezak and Fred Bousquet Detail Behind the Scenes Stories of the 4×100 Freestyle Relay in Beijing

The men’s 4×100 freestyle relay from the 2008 Olympic Games is one of the most famous races in swimming history. The pre-race hype and what was at stake for Michael Phelps and the Americans, as well as how the race unfolded with Jason Lezak’s comeback, and how that race still stands as one of the oldest world records in swimming, makes it one fans who watched it live will never forget.

American anchor Jason Lezak and France’s Fred Bousquet reminisced on that relay through Brett Hawke’s podcast, who helped coach Bousquet during his career at Auburn.

Fred Bousquet. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Bousquet went over how the original line-up was supposed to be Amaury Leveaux on the lead-off, Alain Bernard second, Fabien Gilot third, and then Bousquet last. He said that Bernard would go second because he was the world record holder and didn’t want to see his record go down on the lead-off to Eamon Sullivan and throw him out of the race, so he would go second so it wouldn’t deter him. And Bousquet would go last because he had the most experience, with Beijing being his third Olympics and having swum on the 4×100 free relay each time.

But ultimately, the French coaches decided to put Bernard last, and Bousquet third, which took them out of the race for a few minutes. Notably, they went with this order at the 2009 Worlds, with Bernard going second and Bousquet last, but wound up with the bronze medal while the Americans won the gold.

Alain Bernard famously predicted the French would win the relay before the Games started, and Bousquet explains how he believes that quote was blown out of proportion before the race even started.

Jason Lezak talked about how he had envisioned himself diving in with a lead in the weeks before the relay and how it would be about him holding off the field, rather than him having to come from behind. He was famously on the 4×100 freestyle relay team in Sydney that lost to the Australians that is often regarded as one of the best relays of all-time depending on who in the world you ask.

Four years later, Lezak was run down by Pieter van den Hoogenband as the Americans received their first bronze in the 4×100 free relay at the Olympics, and he talked about how imperative it was the Americans swim as one team and not four individuals, and he believes that is how the Americans banded together to win that race over 12 years ago.

Listen to Jason Lezak and Fred Bousquet’s full conversations with Brett Hawke on his podcast.

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