Jason Lezak’s stirring anchor leg lifted the U.S. menâ€™s 4×100-meter relay swimming team to the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics and a world record. 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 Phelpsâ€™ 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.
On Saturday night, 41-year-old Dara Torres made history by becoming the oldest swimmer to win an Olympic medal when she anchored the U.S. women’s 4×100 freestyle relay team to a silver. The Netherlands won the race in a world record 3:33.76, with the Americans finishing in 3:34.33.
“As Iâ€™ve said from the beginning of this, age is just a number,” Torres, a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, told The New York Times.
For Torres, the first American swimmer to compete in five Olympics, it was her 10th medal.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.