Host City: Beijing, China
Venue(s): Beijing National Aquatics Centre, Beijing Olympic Green, Beijing
Date Started: August 10, 2008
Date Finished: August 11, 2008
The US men had won the first seven editions of this event at the Olympic Games but had suffered surprise defeats at both the 2000 and 2004 Games. It seemed that the balance of power that shifted back to the Americans when they won the world title in 2007. France were bronze medalists at the World Championships and, with soon to be 100 freestyle Olympic champion [Alain Bernard] anchoring the team, now emerged as a serious threat to the US. In the opening round, another French swimmer, [Amaury Leveaux], opening with a world record of 47.76 for 100 metres, and France seemed to have a clear road to the gold.
Individual silver medalist [Eamon Sullivan] put Australia into the lead after the first leg, breaking Leveaux's mark by recording a world record 47.24, but from then on it became a duel between the French and the Americans. A fine third leg from [FrÃ©d Bousquet] put the French half a second ahead with 100 metres to go and left Bernard with a superb chance to clinch the victory. All this reckoned without a once-in-a-lifetime swim from American anchor [Jason Lezak]. Lezak would finish 0.4 of a second behind Bernard in the 100 freestyle final but here he took three quarters of a second off his French rival and guided the USA to a remarkable win in yet another world record time, also preserving [Michael Phelps]'s quest for eight gold medals.