Four years after Jason Lezak's unbelievable comeback in the Men's 4x100m Freestlye Relay, France got its revenge against the United States Sunday at the 2012 Summer Olympics, narrowly edging the Americans for the gold medal. Russia won the bronze while Australia, the pre-race favorite, was fourth.
With Nathan Adrian leading things off, the U.S. had a slight lead over Australia after the first 100m. Then Michael Phelps took to the water and looked much better than he did on Saturday in the 400m IM as he lengthened the Americans' lead over France, while the Aussies dipped to third.
Cullen Jones swam the third 100m and only managed to maintain the U.S. advantage, but the French began closing over the final 50m. Ryan Lochte anchored the swim for the U.S. and took a 0.30-second lead into the final 50 meters, but it was there that France's Yannick Agnel turned it on and gave his best Lezak impersonation, passing Lochte in the final meters and touching the wall just 0.45 seconds ahead of the American.
France was excited.
After Lochte's dominant win in Saturday's 400m IM, it perhaps made sense to have him swim the American anchor, and of course hindsight is 20/20, but should Phelps have been swimming last? It's likely Lochte was at least a bit fatigued -- he swam the 200m Free semifinals earlier in the evening. And the times lend some support to those who want to question the order: Phelps swam his 100m in 47.15 (the fastest U.S. split) while Lochte turned in a 47.74.
Then again, maybe it wouldn't have mattered -- France's Agnel swam a blistering 46.74 split in his anchor leg, the only swimmer of the 32 athletes to go under 47 seconds.