Mixing relay gold with two fourths
Matt Cetlinski's Olympic glory was realized in the 4 x 200 free relay in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, although Cetlinski swam two individual events as well. Though he had recently set an American record in the 400 free (3:48.06), which still stands today, Cetlinski collected two fourth-places in Seoul in the 400 and 1500 freestyles.
"People always ask me how I felt finishing fourth twice," he says. "I was going for the gold, and my performances were not disappointing. I did the best I could do—my times were only tenths off my best."
One hour before the 4 x 200 relay, teammate Matt Biondi was touched out by Surinam's Anthony Nesty in the 100 butterfly. "Matt was disappointed about the 100 fly," Cetlinski remembers. "The relay team got together and decided we really wanted to win for Matt." The relay, which also included Troy Dalbey and Doug Gjertsen, won in world record time, and Cetlinski had the second-fastest split behind Biondi. Like Cetlinski’s 400 free record, the 4 x 200 free relay time remains the American record today.
SWIM magazine, July-August 1996
Matthew J. Cetlinski lives in Columbia, Md., and swims unattached.