Monday, August 11, 2008

The *real* amazing race

I simply had to write about the absolutely amazing race that occurred last night at the Olympic 4x100m Freestyle Relay Final. At this point, you've probably heard what happened. If you haven't seen it, you need to watch it. It was an amazing finish for a race and you haven't really experienced it till you see it yourself.
To setup:
France is favored to win the Men's 4x100 Freestyle Relay. The race consists of four swimmers in a relay. Each of them swims 100 meters (1 lap). As with most relays, when one racer touches the wall, the next guy can go. The United States had a series of different swimmers that could be members of the relay team. To conserve strength, they qualified for the final race using a set of 'B' team swimmers (they were a little slower than their best, but were good enough to get them to the final). That put the team in the final. The final relay line-up wasn't decided until very close to the race (something that isn't too unusual in team swim meets). The 'A' team for the Americans for the final was to be: Michael Phelps (lead-off), Garrett Weber-Gale (2nd), Cullen Jones (3rd) and Jason Lezak (anchor). Seventy minutes before, Phelps swam and won a gold medal in the 400m Individual Medley (IM) and Cullen Jones swam as part of the qualifying relay team earlier. Building a prediction for the relay's outcome on the career best times for the American's and the French results in the French winning the gold and the Americans trailing close behind for the silver medal. That was the favored prediction at least and the French were boasting about it to the media by saying, "the Americans? We're going to smash them. That's what we came here for."

In the end, the race resulted in an amazing finish even if the race hadn't been so close because they beat the world record by FOUR FULL SECONDS!

Completely, totally, unbelievable... Check out the streaming video of the race on NBC's olympic website. There's also a decent story that they have written about the race.


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