Aug. 11, 2008
BEIJING, China -- 2007 Northwestern graduate Matt Grevers earned records and championships at both the Big Ten and NCAA Championships while swimming for the Wildcats. In a span of 24 hours in Beijing, however, Grevers twice reached a pinnacle even higher as a member of Team USA: the Olympic medal stand.
Grevers earned an Olympic Gold as a member of the 4x100-meter freestyle relay Monday morning in Beijing, then picked up a silver medal in the 100-meter backstroke Tuesday morning. Along the way, Grevers set both an Olympic record and a world record.
Grevers began his Olympic program Sunday night in Beijing, qualifying first overall during the preliminaries of the 100-meter backstroke with a then-Olympic record time of 53.41. He then came back two events later to anchor the preliminary swim for the 4x100-meter freestyle relay, helping the team to a then-world-record time of 3:12.23 to again qualify first overall for the finals. Grevers swam the team's second-best split in the relay with a 47.77 fourth leg.
On Monday morning, Grevers finished second overall in the semifinals of the 100-meter backstroke, becoming one of just three men at the 2008 Beijing Olympics to break the 53.00 barrier with a time of 52.99.
After his semifinal swim, Grevers watched his American teammates -- including Michael Phelps in his quest for a record eight Olympic gold medals at the 2008 Games -- come from behind to win the 4x100-meter freestyle final in world-record fashion. Cullen Jones, who had fastest split of the four American swimmers in the preliminary heat, was the lone member of that squad to race in the finals. Grevers and the other two members of the preliminary group also receive gold medals in the event, however.
On Tuesday morning (Monday night in the U.S.), Grevers returned to the pool to complete an American sweep of the 100-meter backstroke final, swimming a 53.11 to take silver behind Aaron Peirsol's world-record effort of 52.54.
While both of Grevers' records were broken later in the Olympic program, he still was -- albeit for a brief moment -- an Olympic- and world-record holder.