FLASH! Leon Marchand Downs Michael Phelps’ 400 IM World Record

Leon Marchand -- Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

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FLASH Leon Marchand Downs Michael Phelps’ 400 IM World Record

After months of speculating, hoping and wondering, it happened Sunday night in Fukuoka.

Leon Marchand fulfilled his destiny as the world record holder in the men’s 400 individual medley, taking down the longest-held and last record by Michael Phelps.

Marchand went 4:02.50 to demolish a fast field, taking down Phelps’ world record from 2008. Phelps had been the fastest man at 4:03.84, until Marchand positively obliterated that.

“That was insane,” Marchand told the deck-side interviewer. “That was one of the most painful things I did. It was just amazing to do it here. This time is crazy. The best is yet to come.”

Marchand’s splits:

  • 54.66 – 1:01.98 – 1:07.64 – 53.60 – 4:02.50.

Carson Foster gave him a push for the first 200 meters, but the American ended up with silver in 4:06.56. Daiya Seto roused the home fans by winning bronze in 4:09.41.

The 400 IM world record is one of the most hallowed from Phelps. He first set it on Aug. 15, 2002 in Fort Lauderdale at 4:11.09, taking a Tom Dolan mark. Phelps would lower it four more times, the final time at the Beijing Olympic final to 4:03.84. So fast was the record that it was one of the few to survive the super-suited 2009 Worlds onslaught. It was the oldest world record left on the board, men’s or women’s.

Marchand took it out on Foster, under world record pace by .36 seconds. Marchand held him off the backstroke leg, despite a late run by Foster, then turned into favored breaststroke. By that point, the pair was more than a body-length ahead of the field, with the rest swimming for bronze.

By the 250, Marchand was .75 up on the world record. By the 300, Marchand’s edge over the world record was an irrepressible 2.77 seconds. All that was left was a race of Marchand against the imaginary line at his feet. And like just about every race he’s run in the last couple of years, the Frenchman won it. In the process, he repeated as world champ, Foster getting silver again.

Marchand said through the French Federation:

“It’s excellent. I train every day for this it’s great. I hadn’t set myself a time. I don’t know what to say, I’m just too happy.

Nicolas Castel, Marchand’s club coach, added:

“I was quite calm because I knew he had improved this year. We did a good preparation. I saw that in the 200m he had done the job and I was calm about what followed. That’s great.

“Today he was calm, serene. He does things well. Many people spoke to him about this world record. He had it in the back of his head. He found his balance in life. What he likes is winning and being happy. This is what allows him to perform. Records are not an obsession. I still told him to enjoy because these are rare moments.”

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Leon Marchand & Michael Phelps: Photo Courtesy: KMSP/Stephane Kempinaire


For Foster, his front-half strength is going to be his building block.

“The area I’m going to improve is going to have to be my second 200, and that’s something I’ve known for the last two years,” he said. “So I’m going to continue to focus on my strengths, which is fly and back, and breaststroke is going to continue to get better. I was faster than I was last year, so just going to continue to get better and improve on the small stuff.”

Seto was the best of the rest in 4:09.41, less than a second up on American Chase Kalisz in a battle of veterans. Kalisz was vying to add to his bronze last year, but the reigning Olympic champ (in a time, by the way, 7 seconds slower than Marchand) didn’t quite have enough.

Brendon Smith augmented a strong night for Australia in 4:10.37 for fifth. Lewis Clareburt of New Zealand was sixth, followed by Alberto Razzetti and Balasz Hollo.



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10 months ago

It was a record in a haf polyurethane suit, so it’s a supersuit era record, Marchand obliterated it in a textile jammer, just as Kristof Milak did it on the 200 fly

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