Aug. 10, 2008
BEIJING -- Texas-Ex Garrett Weber-Gale swam the second leg of Team USA's 400-meter freestyle relay and kept the Americans in position to capture the gold before Jason Lezak mounted a late rally past France's Alain Bernard to give the Americans a thrilling victory, the gold medal and a new world record in the event Monday morning at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Weber-Gale wins his first Olympic medal and secures the 33rd gold medal won by a current or former University of Texas men's swimmer or diver. He becomes the 58th athlete with UT ties to win an Olympic medal and lands the 59th gold medal, the 103rd medal overall, won by a Longhorn.
Australia took the early lead in the relay after the initial 100 meters, but Team USA, behind Weber-Gale's second relay split 47.02 seconds, took a narrow lead halfway through the race. France assumed the lead after 300 meters, and Frenchman Alain Bernard extended the lead heading into the final 50 meters, but Lezak furiously rallied the Americans from behind in the final 25 meters and just beat Bernard to the wall, giving Team USA the gold medal.
The Americans smashed their world record mark of 3:12.23 set in the preliminary round, finishing in 3:08.24 and defeating the French by a mere eight one-hundredths of a second. It marked the first 400-meter freestyle relay victory for Team USA at an Olympic Games since the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Texas-Ex Aaron Peirsol took third in the second 100-meter backstroke semifinal heat, finishing in 53.56 to land the fifth seed in the finals, which are set for Tuesday morning in Beijing. The Tuesday morning finals will air live Monday on NBC beginning at 9 p.m. Central.
Texas-Ex Brendan Hansen just missed the medal stand in the 100-meter breaststroke, taking fourth overall in 59.57. Japan's Kosuke Kitajima eclipsed Hansen's world record in the event, becoming the first man to finish under 59 seconds, as he clocked 58.91.