Former Lawrence resident Michael Andrew had been 0 for 3 in medals at the Tokyo Olympics, including a narrow podium miss in the final of the 50-meter freestyle Saturday night.
He had one last shot to nab a medal in Tokyo as part of Team USA’s men’s 400-meter medley relay team. Not only did he get that gold, he got it in style.
The Americans — Andrew, Caeleb Dressel, Ryan Murphy and Zach Apple — won the gold and set a world record on Saturday night (Central time) at the Tokyo Aquatics Center, touching the wall for the final time in 3 minutes, 26.78 seconds.
Great Britain put up a worthy fight for silver by finishing in 3:27.51, while Italy nabbed bronze in 3:29.17.
The U.S. team’s time beat the old record (3:27.28) by over half a second, also set by the Americans, at the 2009 World Aquatics Championships.
Andrew, who swam second in the breaststroke leg, was given a 0.21 of a second gap over the second-placed Italians via Murphy’s backstroke split of 52.31. A charge from Great Britain’s Adam Peaty — the 100 breaststroke gold medalist who had beaten Andrew in the event earlier this week — put the Americans in third and 0.64 seconds behind the Brits.
But it turned out to be a manageable gap for the U.S. team, considering Dressel, arguably the best swimmer on the planet, was up next for the butterfly leg.
Dressel swam the fastest fly split ever (49.03) to give the U.S. a 0.6-second lead headed into Apple’s freestyle leg. After having placed 11th in the 100 freestyle individually, Apple held off Britain’s Duncan Scott for the final leg to clinch the fastest time in history.
Andrew had previously missed winning a medal in the 100 breast, 200 individual medley and 50 free. In the 50 freestyle, he only missed bronze by 0.06 seconds just hours before the 400 medley relay.
But Andrew — a 22-year-old who formerly lived and trained in Lawrence with his family before moving to California — did his job to keep pace in the relay to earn his first Olympic medal.
With the win, Dressel earned his fifth gold in Tokyo, the most by any athlete (other than Michael Phelps) at a single Olympic Games since 1988.