Lezak, Jason : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Lezak, Jason


Country Represented:
United States

Years Competed:
2000, 2004

Medals Received:
gold, silver

Olympic Info:
Lezak is a three time Olympic medal winner for the United States and has competed in both Athens 2004 and Sydney 2000. He swam in the preliminaries for the U.S 4X100 medley team which went on to win gold, won silver in the 4X100 freestyle relay in Sydney 2000, and won a gold medal in the Athens 2004 4X100 medley relay as well.

Jason was a member of the United States swimming team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and competed in two relay events. In the 4x100-meter freestyle relay, the U.S. easily advanced to the finals by winning its preliminary heat (3:15.43). In the finals though, they were defeated by Australia and won the silver medal with a time of 3:13.86; it was the first time in Olympic history that the U.S. did not win the gold medal in that event. Lezak also swam in the preliminary heat of the 4x100-meter medley relay; the U.S. finished third in the heat (3:38.59), and went on to win the gold medal.

At the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials, Lezak broke the American record in the 100-meter freestyle (48.17) in the semifinals. He eventually won the 100-meter and also qualified for the Olympics in the 50-meter freestyle (22.05). Jason swam in heat 9 in the Athens Games 100-meter freestyle event and came in fifth (49.87), with a disappointing time. He failed to qualify for the semifinals. Lezak has done better in 50-meter freestyle event. He swam in heat 9 on the morning of August 19 and finished third (22.33), thus qualifying for the semifinals. His time was the seventh best among the sixteen swimmers which competed in the semifinals. Lezak won the second semifinal and qualified for the final with the third best qualifying time (22.12). Jason improved on his qualification time in the final (22.11) but finished fifth, nine hundredths of a second behind third place and the bronze medal. Though he did not participate in the heats, Lezak was picked to swim the fourth leg in the 4X100 medley relay final on August 21. Jason helped the U.S.A to a gold medal, as well as a new world record (3:30.68).

Career Highlights:
At the age of five, Lezak joined the Irvine (California) Novaquatics swim team and has never left. He first qualified for the nationals while a senior in high school, but decided to go water-skiing and gambling near Las Vegas with friends instead. In 1994, Lezak was also a high school All-American in water polo. At Irvine, Lezak is coached by Dave Salo, who uses a unique training method that emphasizes quality over quantity. Lezak likes Salo's philosophy of concentration on fast-twitch muscles, and does not see the need to swim thousands of meters every day.

Lezak began 1999 on a promising note, winning the bronze medal in the 100-meter freestyle at the U.S. Open. At the Pan Pacific Championships that year, Lezak won a silver medal as a member of the 400-meter freestyle relay team. After competing at the Olympic pool in the 1999 Pan American Championships in Sydney, however, he suffered from bulging discs in his back in October.

His training was limited in 2000 due to his back injuries and to tendinitis in his elbow. Lezak recovered in time for the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials, where he finished fourth in the 100-meter freestyle with a personal best of 49.15 seconds and qualified for the relay team. He also finished fifth in the 50-meter freestyle at the Olympic Trials.

In 2001, Lezak made the U.S. National team by finishing second in the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle events at the U.S. Nationals. At the World Championships (July 22-29), Lezak reached the semifinals in the 50-meter, but finished tenth overall (he failed to advance to the finals) with a time of 22.43; fellow American Jew Anthony Ervin won the gold medal. In the 100-meter freestyle at the Worlds, he finished eighth in the final with a time of 49.51.

At the 2002 U.S. Championships, Lezak finished in first place in both the 50-meter (22.34) and the 100-meter (49.19) freestyle events. One week later, he won the 50-meter freestyle at the Pan Pacific Championships; Anthony Ervin finished in second place in the 50-meter at both competitions. At the end of the 2002 season, Lezak was ranked No. 1 in the U.S. 50-meter free (22.00) and 100-meter (48.89).

Lezak performed well during 2003 in the short-distanced freestyle events. At the World Championships, he finished fourth in the 100-meter free with a time of 48.94. He also competed in the 50-meter free and finished eighth in the final with a time of 22.14.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. Nov. 12, 1975

Irvine, California

Use links below to navigate through the olympics section of Jews In Sports.

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Jewish Sports Review, September/October 2000 issue (Vol. 2, No. 8, Issue 21)

http:// www.usaswimmer.com/
http:// www.usa-swimming.org/
http:// www.olympics.com/