Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines

Rhetorical Performances of Jason Lezak's 4x100 Olympic Freestyle Relay Leg

Original U.S. Broadcast 11 August 2008 on NBC from Beijing, China



 [AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from the audio]

Hicks: France has taken the lead up there in Lane 5 over the United States. Alain Bernard awaits as the anchor guy. And Jason Lezak is going to have to make up some ground on Alain Bernard, who stands six-feet-five [6'5"] and can absolutely fly.


Gaines: I just don't think they can do it, Dan. I mean, Jason Lezak has been there. How many times in his career has he anchored this free relay and medley relay?

    Gaines: But I -- I just don't think he can do it.

         Gaines: He's trying to ride that wave as much as possible.

      Hicks: Bernard is pulling away from him. Lezak --

        Gaines: Look at the world record line.

Hicks: -- a three time Olympian. The world record is absolutely going to  be shattered here.1 The United States [is] trying to hang on to second. They should get the silver medal. Australia is in bronze territory right now --

Hicks: -- but Lezak is closing a little bit on Bernard! Can the veteran chase him down and pull off a shocker here?!

Gaines: Well there's no doubt that he's tightening it up!

Hicks: Bernard is losing some ground!!


              Here comes Lezak!!! 


                         Hicks: HE'S DONE IT!! THE U.S. HAS DONE IT!!

                Gaines: HE DID IT!

                     Hicks: A new world record!

                                 Gaines: HE DID IT! HE DID IT!


Hicks: [Michael] Phelps's hope's [are] alive! 46:06 split for Lezak! What a clutch, fast swim when they needed it! Who's talkin' now? Stunned! [as the camera cuts to a wide shot of the the French team's clearly dazed facial expressions].

Gaines: I think they need to use another word other than "smash."2  Wow. That might be the most incredible relay split I've ever seen in my entire life. Not only was that the fastest in history -- it BLEW AWAY the fastest in history.

1 Five of the eight teams -- the United States (3:08.24), France (3:08.32), Australia (3:09.91), Italy (3:11.48), and Sweden (3:11.92) -- beat the previous world record of 3:12.23, established in a preliminary heat by the United States at these same Olympic games. The latter achievement was remarkable in its own right, as a group of relatively unheralded American swimmers -- Nathan Adrian, Cullen Jones, Ben Wildman-Tobriner, and Matthew Grevers -- beat the previous world record set in 2006 by the United States at the Pan-Pacific Championships, a team which included Michael Phelps and Jason Lezak. Of the members who competed in the 2008 Olympic preliminary heat for the United States, Cullen Jones' swam the fastest leg (47:61) and thereby earned a spot in the final heat.

2 In a press conference prior to the start of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, France's Alain Bernard stated: "The Americans? We're going to smash them. That's what we came here for." [emphasis added]. In a bit of karmic irony, American swimmer Gary Hall, Jr. had said much the same thing -- "We'll smash them like guitars" -- regarding the Australian men's relay team's chances at the same event during the 2000 Olympics in Sidney. That race, also among the most dramatic in Olympic history, saw Aussie Ian Thorpe claw his way back to edge out Hall in the final few meters of the race, giving the Australians their first Gold Medal in this event (and the Americans' first loss).

Page Updated: 8/8/22

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