Tag archives for Jason Lezak
And it’s all come down to this, the final day of the Great Turtle Race. I’m the “Voice of Swimming,” Rowdy Gaines, reporting live. The last day is certainly not the least in terms of excitement! Wawa Bear made it just under the wire. In an amazing finish that was reminiscent of her coach, Jason Lezak, in his world-record comeback victory in the 2008 Olympic relay, Wawa Bear zoomed across the finish line just before the end of the Race!
Illustration by Chris Rooney
Now that the turtles have completed the two-week Race, we can reveal just how far each turtle traveled! These turtles have put in incredible effort on their journeys, and all have covered thousands of kilometers. Olympic medal-winning backstroker Aaron Peirsol was the official spokesperson and ‘coach’ for this event. And the winner of the challenge is… Estéban! He swam an astounding 7,856 kilometers (4,881 miles) during the course of the Race. Visit the interactive Race Map to find out more about the turtles’ challenge stats.
What a Race this has been. The competitors in this Race are truly inspirational. They face many obstacles, cross entire oceans, and see many changes to their environments, but they just keep on going.
On behalf of all the sponsors, partners, coaches, Race fans, and the turtles themselves, thanks for your support and participation in the Great Turtle Race. Together, we can all help leatherbacks on their journey back to healthy populations in healthy oceans. Taking the No More Plastic! Pledge is a great way to start!
Hi Race fans! I’m Rowdy Gaines reporting on the second to last day of the Great Turtle Race, and what a day! Estéban, Nueva Esperanza, and Seabiscuit all crossed into the Caribbean in a photo finish, but it looks like it was Seabiscuit by a beak! Estéban and Nueva Esperanza finished in a tie for third place, but both made super efforts toward the finish.
Illustration by Chris Rooney
It looks like the mad dash that Nueva made during the last couple of days has left her exhausted. She stopped not too long after crossing the finish line. Maybe she’s taking it easy now that she’s in those warm, soothing Caribbean waters. Estéban crossed into the Caribbean and is now cruising up the coast of the Windward Islands.
Hold on a second! Look at Wawa Bear! It appears her coach, Jason Lezak (who also coached Seabiscuit to an amazing finish) has convinced her that it was time to go to her favorite beach in French Guiana! She’s making great time now, but will she make it before the Race ends tomorrow?
Grembo Jones and Searcher are still hanging around in the eastern Atlantic in the general vicinity of the Cabo Verde Islands. Nightswimmer seems to be headed straight to Georgia. She traveled a long distance, though, which means she knows the way and will be a contender next year!
It has all come down to this: tomorrow is the final day of the Race! How will the Race end? We’ll announce which turtle covered the most ocean during the Race. Visit the interactive Race Map to track all the action. Don’t miss the last day!
Hi, turtle lovers! This is Rowdy Gaines reporting on the Great Turtle Race. The Race is getting very exciting! The turtles are all making moves toward the Caribbean, but using very different strategies to get there.
Billy is getting really close to the finish line in the northern Caribbean. Will he be the first to cross it? The other turtles hope not!
Keep an eye on Seabiscuit-he’s not far behind! Is he going to try to overtake the others from behind, just like his famous racehorse namesake and his famous human coach, Olympic relay star Jason Lezak?
Illustration by Chris Rooney
Check out the position of all the turtles on the interactive Race Map.
Meet the talented athletes who will be involved in this year’s Great Turtle Race.
Often called “Swimming’s Greatest Ambassador,” Gaines is a three-time Olympic gold medalist and U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame inductee. He’s set and smashed world records and faced down tremendous personal obstacles (including a temporary paralysis in 1991 from Guillain-Barré Syndrome) to become a world-class athlete and freestyle swimmer. His voice is famous, too. He does commentary for swimming competitions on NBC and ESPN–most recently for the exciting 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.
DEEPEST and LONGEST DIVES
A U.S. freestyle sprint swimmer and gold medalist, Cullen Jones is fast…. REAL fast! So fast, that he helped set a new world record time in the 4x100m freestyle relay in the most recent Beijing Olympics with teammates Michael Phelps, Jason Lezak and Garret Weber-Gale. And Jones is the first African-American to hold or share a world record in swimming–a pretty impressive feat.
Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Perhaps one of the best back strokers (um… ever?!) Peirsol currently holds the world record for the 100m back stroke. No stranger to success, he’s been earning medals from a young age. He went to his first Olympics when he was 16 and set his first world record at age 17. Plus, in Beijing he took home a Gold in the 4×100 medley relay and a Silver in
the 200m backstroke.
Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AP
Amanda Beard (Grembo Jones, Lindblad the Explorer and Estéban)
Competition is in Beard’s blood: So far, she’s swam in four different Olympic games! Her teammates even voted her one of the co-captains of the 2008 women’s swimming team. She has won seven, count ‘em, SEVEN medals for her swimming. She is also an avid supporter of many causes to defend wildlife and use her celebrity to encourage others to do so as well (including the Leatherback in this race.)
Photo: Mark J. Terrill/AP
Janet Evans (Nueva Esperanza, Nightswimmer and Searcher)
She may have retired from competitive swimming, but Evans left an indelible mark on the sport winning five medals (including four gold ones!) and setting seven world records with her one-of-a-kind “windmill” stroke. She even earned the nickname, Miss Perpetual Motion. This gold medalist knows what it takes to make it to the medals stand.
Photo: Simon Bruty/Allsport/Getty images
Jason Lezak (Seabiscuit, Wawa Bear and Billy)
As the most senior member of the 2008 men’s swimming team, Lezak brought the necessary experience and maturity to help win the 4x100m freestyle relay. As its anchor–both literally and figuratively, Lezak made a memorable and amazing comeback to close the gap between the Americans and the French team–helping the U.S. win the gold by eight hundredths of a second. He has earned three gold and two bronze medals for his swimming.
Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Eric Shanteau (Backspacer and Cali)
Shanteau won a spot on the 2008 U.S men’s team to swim the 200m breast stroke where he posted his personal best time. Just two weeks before Beijing, Shanteau was diagnosed with cancer. He delayed treatment to achieve his life’s goal of swimming in the Olympics and then returned to successfully beat the cancer. His tremendous fighting spirit and determination make him a stand-out competitor both in and out of the pool.
Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Turtle Name: Billy (Male)
Length: 159.6 cm (5 ft 3 in)
Width: 113.3 cm (3 ft 9 in)
Weight: 440 kg (970 lbs)
Coach: Jason Lezak
Billy is a big adult male leatherback, who likes hanging out with his marlin and swordfish buddies when he’s not racing other leatherbacks across the Atlantic Ocean. Billy’s female cousin by the same name (‘Billie’) was the winner of the 2007 Great Turtle Race over in the Pacific Ocean, narrowly edging out ‘Stephanie Colburtle’.
Olympic champion Jason Lezak, a career relay swimmer, is trying to instill his exceptional discipline and energy in Billy for this Race.
Turtle Name: Seabiscuit (Male)
Length: 164.8 cm (5 ft 6 in)
Width: 122.9 cm (4 ft)
Weight: 490 kg (1,080 lbs)
Seabiscuit was the first turtle to receive a satellite tag for this year’s Race, and a strange mark on the front of his carapace (or shell) makes him easy to spot. Although we can’t be sure how he got this distinctive mark, it shows that whatever he has faced in his long life, Seabiscuit is one tough turtle!
That should be no surprise, given that this turtle gets his name from a famous racehorse whose heroics on the track inspired a disheartened nation during the Great Depression. This 21st century Seabiscuit hopes to follow in his namesake’s footsteps, at a time when we need it most!
Olympic gold medalist Jason Lezak, who is training Seabiscuit for this big Race, knows something about inspirational comebacks. His thrilling come-from-behind anchor leg in the 4x100m freestyle race in the 2008 Olympics was the fastest split in history and won the gold for the American team!
Turtle Name: Wawa Bear (Female)
Length: 174.5 cm (5 ft 9 in)
Width: 123.5 cm (4 ft 1 in)
Weight: 600 kg (1,315 lbs)
Wawa Bear is the largest turtle EVER captured in Nova Scotian waters, bigger than most real bears! While the ‘Bear’ in this turtle’s name is obvious, the ‘Wawa’ comes from what she called her grandmother when Wawa Bear was just a little turtle. She is a regular traveler from Canada to the Caribbean; she has nested in French Guiana every 2 years since 1993! Wawa Bear is not a turtle that needs to stop and ask for directions.
To get in shape for the Race, Wawa Bear was trained by Olympic champion Jason Lezak, who is a career anchor swimmer, so his teammates rely on him to pull through at the end of the race.