During my group swim this morning, as I was doing my 25 yard sprints to finish out the workout, my coach mentioned that my form "goes all to hell" when I try to swim fast. I knew this.
He then asked me if I remembered Jason Lezak's amazing anchor leg in the 2008 Beijing Olympics 4 x 100 meter relay. Our course I remembered this race. It was one of those moments that you will won't forget if you were able to watch it live.
Anyway, the reason that he brought this up was to illustrate that you can swim fast without sacrificing form. He said that I should find a video of this race and watch Lezak as he comes from behind. His stroke is smooth and he isn't splashing all kinds of water around. He just glides through the water...to the fastest 100 meter split in history!
So I found the video...pretty amazing. Just in case you don't remember, or were living in a cave in the summer of 2008, here's the situation. The French had an all-star relay team and they had talked a lot of trash leading up to the race. After the first three swimmers had gone, the French had a built a big lead and had their best swimmer going last. After the first 50 meters of the last leg, the lead seemed insurmountable (a full body length). The announcers even said that they hoped the US could hang on for second.
But as he flipped and pushed off the wall for the final 50 meters, something changed in Jason Lezak's mind. His quote was "I'm at the Olympic Games, I'm here for the United States of America. I don't care how bad it hurts, I'm going after it!"
With that smooth stroke and a powerful kick, Lezak gained inches. With 25 meters to go, the crowd saw that he was gaining ground and began to cheer. With 10 meters to go, the crowd was roaring and Lezak found a gear that no one (including himself) knew he had.
In the final stroke, Lezak reached for the wall and with perfect timing, he beat the Frechman...by eight-hundredths of a second. That's faster than an eye blink!
Here's the video: