At the 1998 worlds, Lenny Krayzelburg became the first swimmer to sweep the backstroke events at a World Championships or Olympics since 1986. In August 1999, at the U.S. nationals, he broke the American record in the 200-meter backstroke for the fifth time since 1997 - just missing Martin Zubero's 1991 world standard of 1 minute, 56.57 seconds. But Krayzelburg got the 200 mark later in the month, clocking 1.55.87 to win gold at the Pan Pacific. He had set the world record in 100-meter backstroke, winning 53.60.
Krayzelburg's performance at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials set the stage for Sydney. His semifinal time in the 100, which Krayzelburg swam in a normal bathing suit and no racing cap, was with in .07 of his world record. He beat Neil Walker in that event and held off backstroke rival Aaron Peirsol in the 200-meter.
The August 21, 2000 issue of Sports Illustrated states "... Of all the stories that will be spun from now until the end of the Sydney Games, his is one of the oldest and best success-story stories: The immigrant who has come to a new land and worked hard to overcome obstacles and found exactly what he hoped to find. The American Dream."
At Sydney, Lenny won gold in the 100-Meter Backstroke, 200-Meter Backstroke and 4 x 100 Meter Freestyle Relay.