In 1972, Mark Spitz, at 22 took center stage in the Olympics. There are few sports that allow an athlete the possibility of turning multiple gold medals; swimming is the only event that would allow anyone to set the record Mark did. He won an astonishing 7 Gold Medals. Three of his medals came in relays. All were world records.
His record stood for 36 years, and it took a miraculous Olympics for the US swim team combined with one of the most amazing swimming athletes of all time to break that record.
Michael Phelps won 8 Gold Medals to pass Spitz for a new record. Michael, as was the case with Spitz, had to turn to teammates in three relay events to win!! One of them was a shocker in the 4x100M Freestyle Relay.
We have many of these shining moments highlighted on our website. And guess what? Every event, every single event was a new world record!! Every one!!! Michael had passed Spitz in total world records in a single Olympics as well.
Here is a table of the results:
It is not fair to compare the times one on one, other than to show how far athletes have come setting world records over the last 36 years. But it is phenomenal the amount of skill, preparation and luck that went into both records. Michael won the 4×100 Meter Freestyle as a team member and that team barely pulled it out against the French Braggart Bernard thanks to a leg by Michael’s hero of the Olympics Jason Lezak. Michael also won the 100 Meter Individual Butterfly by 1/100 of a second, winning by a finger nail!
Who is the best?
We can’t say. Both are great. Let’s see how long Michael holds onto his record!!
This was the most exciting race of the Olympic swimming events this year and possibly ever. Michael Phelps led off for the US Swim Team. The surprise at the start was Australia with a huge lead after the first turn. A number of swimmers after the first leg were well ahead of the World Record.
Garrett Weber-Gale in his first Olympic swim jumped in for the second leg and took the lead. The US remained in the lead with Cullen Jones swimming in the third leg, but France took it by the turn.
Going into the final leg, anchor man Jason Lezak jumped in the pool well behind. It looked like the Frenchman Bernard was pulling away at the final turn.
Jason Lezak started to close with ½ of a lap to go and pulled off a miraculous finish to take the Gold for America!! A clutch anchor swim we will remember forever. The Frenchman Bernard had to eat his words from earlier in the day.
Lezak later said, “I’ve been on the last two relays, where we came up short, and to be honest with you, I was tired of losing.”
Bernard, the braggart Frenchman, blew the race in the final lap. He had said earlier in the day, “The Americans? We’re going to smash them. That’s what we came for.” He ate those words!! Lezak, the US Team Captain, had much more heart and sportsmanship, and the US team destroyed the world record with a time of 3:08.24.
Better luck next time Bernard.
This keeps Phelps hopes for 8 gold medals in these Olympics alive. He now has two!!
The sweetest part of this race was knowing the French were listening to the US National Anthem at the end.
WATCH THE HISTORIC and DRAMATIC WIN IN ITS ENTIRETY
INCLUDING THE AWARDING CEREMONY!
Michael Phelps Sets Olympic Record in 200M Butterfly
OK, here is the answer to those that felt Michael Phelps may have trouble coming down after that victory yesterday in the men’s freestyle relay.
Michael set an Olympic record at 1:53.70 easily disposing of the competition in this prelim heat.
Phelps is on target still, and with last nights miraculous win, he could be well on his way to making Spitz’s record a memory!