By Phillip Whitten
BARCELONA, July 25. IS there anything this kid can't do in the water?
Barely dry from his record-shattering 100 meter fly swim less than an hour ago, Michael Phelps stepped up on the starting block and proceeded to destroy, obliterate, shatter — you supply the verb —
his own world record in the 200 IM.
Finland's Jani Sievinen had held the mark in that event at 1:58.16 for almost nine years — until Phelps lowered it to 1:57.92 four weeks ago at the Santa Clara International meet.
Swimming in unchartered waters, the 18 year-old who knows no limits, took that mark down to 1:57.52 in yesterday's semifinals.
But tonight he swam an absolutely mind-blowing 1:56.04 to place himself in another category altogether from every other swimmer in the world today, not to mention every swimmer who has gone before him. And he did it against the fastest field — by far — in history.
Ian Thorpe finished second in a Commonwealth record 1:59.66, but he might as well have been light years away. Olympic champion Massi Rosolino was third in 1:59.77 while Sievinen was fourth in 1:59.88 — the first time four men have ever broken two minutes in the same race. George Bovell, a crowd favorite for a medal who hails from tiny Trinidad and Tobago, was fifth in 2:00.06.
With this record, Phelps becomes the first person to hold these four records simultaneouly and the first to set two world records in separate events on the same day.
Phelps has been so utterly awesome here that word is he will undergo unprecedented testing: not for drugs, but for gills!