Olympic swimming: Lezak can't overtake Bernard
BEIJING - In the minds of American swimming fans, Jason Lezak will remain a hero forever. His astounding anchor leg to catch world record-holder Alain Bernard to win Monday's 400 freestyle relay will go down in international swimming lore.
The only way Lezak could replace it in his own mind was to do it again. Unfortunately, beating the Frenchman twice in four days was too much to ask. Bernard beat Australian arch-rival Eamon Sullivan, who has traded the world mark with Bernard this year, in this morning's 100 freestyle with Lezak taking the bronze.
His 47.67 was off his personal best of 47.58.
"Obviously, it doesn't top the relay from the other night but it's something that is really close to me," Lezak said. "The momentum was great but physically it took its toll. I'm lucky I survived that day. I'm feeling a little tired right now."
However, it erased the memory of four years ago. That's when Lezak tried conserving energy for a near-certain 100 final by taking it easy in the semis and didn't qualify.
"It's been eating at me a long time," Lezak said. "For me to get a medal, I'm really excited."
He wasn't nearly as excited as Bernard who coughed up nearly a .20 second lead in the final 50 to lose Monday's relay.
"I took it to heart," Bernard said through an interpreter. "There were four of us but I was the last one. It was on my shoulders. They said it wasn't my fault, that it's a four-man race. That helped me."
"I did my best and ran out of room at the end," Hoff said. "It's tough but we got the American record by four seconds so we can't really complain."
Michael Phelps, in a rare day off without a final, set up his showdown in the 200 individual medley by winning his semifinal along with American Ryan Lochte, who nearly beat him at the Olympic Trials.
"It gives me more time to rest," Phelps said. "That's the biggest thing over the next few days."
Phelps has relaxed, however. He said he has spent most of his spare time watching the documentary, "Planet Earth," the video game Age of Empires and spades.
Lochte will have a difficult double Friday, having qualified today in the 200 backstroke where the world recorder will face defending Olympic gold medal-winner Aaron Peirsol and then 25 minutes later face Phelps in the 200 IM.
"No matter what the outcome is you have to separate it and go on," Lochte said. "There's a physical part, too. But I've trained for it. I'm used to it."
In a near shocker in the women's 100 freestyle semis, world record-holder Lisbeth Trickett of Australia barely qualified in eighth only because Pang had a false start.