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Bruce Hayes Fought For Gold

Anchor of amazing 1984 4x200 relay

Scott Rabalais | July 19, 2000

On paper, the 1984 United States 4 x 200 relay was projected to have a four-second lead going into the anchor leg. The fourth U.S. swimmer would be faced with the formidable task of holding off 200-meter Olympic gold medalist Michael Gross of West Germany. But when the American anchor, Bruce Hayes, dove in, he had only a second-and-a-half lead on Gross.

Watching Gross swim the individual 200 on the first day of competition prepared Hayes for the relay. Gross won by a large margin, but Hayes was determined to give his best shot. "I had a relaxed feeling going into the relay, and I just wanted to swim my own race," he says. Hayes predicted that if he were even with Gross with 50 meters to go that he could outsprint the German to the finish.

Such was the case as Gross immediately caught Hayes and the two swam stroke-for-stroke down the last 50 meters. "I saw him the whole way," Hayes remembers. "It wasn't until Hayes turned and read the scoreboard that he knew gold was his—by four one-hundredths of a second.

SWIM magazine, July-August 1996

Bruce Hayes lives in Atlanta.

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