With all the buzz about Michael Phelps winning a record eight gold medals in Beijing, it's easy to overlook the efforts of the men who made three of those gold medals a reality - his teammates. After all, the team gold medals were the result of a group effort, with everyone trying his hardest to swim faster than ever before in pursuit of the gold medal.
Few will forget one of the most exciting, nail biting performances of any Olympic Games in the men's 4 x 100 freestyle relay. The United States relay team of Michael Phelps, Garrett Weber-Gale, Cullen Jones and Jason Lezak made history as they completed the relay in 3 minutes, 8.24 seconds, achieving a new world record in the effort.
The heavily favored French team was believed to have the advantage, as their team was anchored by Alain Bernard, one of the fastest swimmers in the pool. In fact, as they made the last turn, Bernard had a sizable lead, and the final result looked like a forgone conclusion. But it was Jason Lezak, who came from behind with a mere 15 meters to go to capture first place and the gold medal that kept Phelps in the race for a spot in history.
The U. S. also captured the gold medal in world record time in the men's 4 x 200 free relay, with the combined efforts of Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens and Peter Vanderkaay.
The final relay of the games and the final gold medal for Michael Phelps came when another team of great American swimmers combined to break yet another world record. The team of Aaron Peirsol (backstroke), Brendan Hansen (breaststroke), Phelps (butterfly) and Lezak (freestyle) brought home the gold in the final swimming event at the Beijing Olympics.
Without the efforts of all these incredible athletes, Michael Phelps would still be a star at these Olympic Games, but he would be three medals short of his amazing achievement of winning eight gold medals in a single Olympics. Teamwork did the trick.
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