By John Lohn
Photos by Peter H. Bick
MONTREAL, Canada, July 30. THE upper hand has returned to Ian Crocker, and in a major way. Blowing away the field in the 100-meter butterfly, Crocker obliterated his own world record in the event on Saturday night, touching the wall in a ludicrous time of 50.40. Crocker’s world record had stood at 50.76 from last summer’s Olympic Trials in Long Beach (Calif.).
Crocker finished ahead of his American teammate and rival, Michael Phelps, who turned in a time of 51.65. Crocker took the race out in 23.51, under world-record pace, and powered down the stretch in impressive fashion. Heading into the wall, it appeared Crocker had a chance to break the 50-second barrier. Crocker’s swim could be considered the best of these World Championships.
The defending world champ, Crocker regained control of his duel with Phelps. It was Phelps who topped Crocker at the Olympic Games in Athens. Now, though, there is no debate as to which man is the finest in the world in the stroke. Crocker also clinched his berth on the United States’ 400 medley relay on Sunday night and is likely to swim a split under 50 seconds.
By finishing second, Phelps earned his fifth medal of the championships and will likely swim in the prelims of the medley relay on Sunday morning. He was followed in the bronze-medal slot by the Ukraine’s Andriy Serdinov. Serdinov was timed in 52.08, ahead of the 52.35 of Russia’s Igor Marchenko.
Russia’s Evgeny Korotyshkin shared fifth place with Canada’s Mike Mintenko, as both men finished in a time of 52.87. The seventh-place spot was occupied by Brazil’s Kaio Almeida (53.13) and eighth went to Japan’s Ryo Takayasu (53.28).