Move Over Lezak: Duncan’s Was Bigger (RACE VIDEO)


Jason Lezak‘s was faster, but Duncan Scott‘s was bigger. You already know that Duncan Scott‘s 46.14 anchor leg to lead Great Britain’s men’s 400 medley relay to gold on Sunday is the 2nd-fastest 100 freestyle split in any history, behind only the famous Jason Lezak 46.06 from Lezak. That Lezak split is, and will continue to be, iconic, given that he did it against the French, with whom the US had spun up a big rivalry heading into that meet, and because it preserved Michael Phelps’ quest for a record 8 gold medals in one Olympic Games. On a literal level, Lezak’s swim was immensely more valuable that was Scott’s: Michael Phelps went from “a very wealthy man” to a “generationally wealthy man” after that 8 gold medal performance.

As great and as spine-tingling as that swim was, however, on Sunday, Scott actually made up a bigger deficit, and this time the Americans were on the receiving end. Nathan Adrian, who was a prelims swimmer on that American 400 free relay in Beijing, left the blocks 1.11 seconds ahead of Scott on Sunday, and ultimately finished .55 seconds behind him

Lezak, meanwhile, was a mere .59 seconds behind France’s Alain Bernard when he left the blocks. The scale of Lezak’s comeback looked bigger than it really was because of the way Bernard pulled away from him going into the turn before Lezak clawed back. At the turn, Lezak was .82 seconds behind, which was still smaller than the 1.11 second gap that Scott had to make up.

When asked after the race if the fact that Scott’s split being the 2nd-fastest ever made him feel better about losing the lead, Adrian, in his uniquely Adrian way, smiled and said “no.”

So now maybe we need to consider adding a new verb to our swimming vocabularies. Instead of getting Lezak’ed now swimmers will get Dunc’d on. The two are not quite synonyms – Lezak’ed has a connotation of being insanely exciting, huge in the hugest moment, while Dunc’d is a more utilitarian comeback term – based on ‘scale of the distance’ more than ‘scale of the moment’ (though a World Championship final is certainly still a moment of scale).

Below, watch video of Lezak’s comeback, for the memories. Then, below that, watch video of Scott’s comeback, for the clapback.

Duncan Scott:

See the race in the UK here.

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There will always be a USA bias that it can’t be better than Lezak when USA is on the winning end. Especially from NBC commentators! Congrats Duncan and Great Britain!

My two cents

There is no bias with basic numbers. Lezak had the greatest split ever to win gold in the anchor leg going 46.0 Duncan, also had an amazing split going 46.1, but that is still slower. Also one is for the Olympics and one is for worlds. The US historically the last three World championships the year before the Olympics hasn’t performed nearly as well as they would the following year during the Olympic year.


Lezak had a full body super suit.

Scott is in textile Jammers.

Easily with more than a tenth.


The supersuit argument is invalid. Bernard was wearing a supersuit when Lezak chased him down.
Lezak was faster than Scott, (and that was 11 years ago when times were generally slower.) Bernard was the recent WR holder, not somehow who had gone through two rounds of chemo in the past 8 months. No contest.

Thorpe’s anchor vs Gary Hall – well you might have an argument there.

Peaty the Potato

By that logic the Lezak was drafting off a quicker wave and Scott off a slower one so your argument actually works against you.

Bamaspeed founder

Scott still had a huge wave.. Adrian is a huge guy and Scott was right on that laneline very smart swim by Scott

Peaty the Potato

Also by that logic: Biedermann’s 1 42 was the most impressive 200 swim in history. The supersuit argument is invalid: Phelps was also wearing a supersuit both when he set the WR and racing against Biedermann, Biedermann was faster than Phelps. Phelps was the WR holder. No contest.


supersuit or no, that 1:42 200 is very impressive.


The US has certainly improved in Olympic years and of course they will start massive favorites in Tokyo. BUT, the exception of DQs and boycots, they’ve never lost this event at the Worlds or Olympics, so let’s give the Brits their moment in the sun. And yes, Lesak was marginally faster, but obviously, suit for suit, this was a much faster time if not as significant occasion.


I’ve see this claim in a lot of places – has everyone just blocked Australia beating the US in the medley relay at 98 worlds from their memories?


Yes I had blocked it. Until you just reminded me. It was stashed in one of my oblivion cupboards in the remote recesses of my brain. But seriously I do actually remember that race now that you’ve jarred it from the cobwebs. But I seem to recall that result being not that surprising when it happened. Probably the most forgettable thing about it were the pedestrian times, even for that period. I would blame stat geeks and anoraks for not catching it though. Casual swim fans forgetting it is fairly understandable.


Well European here. Lezak were the greater!
Olympics and taking on the world record holder. That was a sure wrap for the gold.


46.0 vs. 46.1, super suit vs textile tech suit, World Championship vs Olympics, half second deficit to full second deficit……You guys are all missing the point. Lezak’s swim will be remembered long after Scott’s is forgotten because of what was at stake. It took an all-time-great performance by someone other than Phelps himself to deliver the final victory in Phelps’s historic “8 gold medal” quest.


That’s what she said

Steve Nolan

How dare you.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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