Ian Thorpe broke many world records, but many believe his greatest swim was the final leg of the 4 x 100m freestyle relay at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Certainly it provided one of the most exciting moments of the Games. Thorpe was Australia’s final swimmer, following Michael Klim (who broke a world record), Chris Fydler and Ashley Callus, and he was pitted against USA’s Gary Hall junior, the most highly regarded relay swimmer in the world. Hall had predicted that the Americans would “smash Australia like guitars”.
As the two last swimmers hit the water, Thorpe had a narrow margin. Hall, a much more experienced sprinter, hauled him in, and when he took a lead of half a body length into the final turn, the Americans’ unbeaten record in this event looked safe. Thorpe, with his powerful, relaxed stroke and furious kick, caught Hall in the final metres and touched first,setting a world record for the event. Afterwards the Australian gold medallists took some pleasure in strumming non-existent guitars.