Olympics, Swimming: Flash Michael Phelps Smashes World Record in 400 IM

By John Lohn

BEIJING, China, August 10. MICHAEL Phelps is off and rolling.

A day after setting an Olympic record in the preliminary session of the 400 individual medley, Phelps set a world record in the final, collecting what could be the first of eight gold medals at these Olympic Games. Phelps, of course, is trying to break the Olympic record of seven gold medals in one Games, a feat turned by Mark Spitz at the 1972 Games in Munich.

Phelps expected to get a major challenge from teammate Ryan Lochte, but he pulled away from the field on the breaststroke leg, then dropped the hammer on the freestyle leg en route to a time of 4:03.84, more than a second faster than his world mark of 4:05.25 from the U.S. Olympic Trials. It was an indication that this week will be nothing short of spectacular for Phelps.

Splitting 54.92 for the butterfly leg, Phelps was just ahead of Lochte after the backstroke, his 1:56.49 split better than the 1:56.69 by Lochte. Phelps opened up his lead at the 300-meter mark, where he was timed in 3:07.05. Where the breaststroke formerly was the weak point for Phelps – if such a thing can be said – Phelps used the breast to his advantage. He capped his swim by powering through the freestyle.

Lochte, who gave Phelps all sorts of problems at Trials, faded toward the end of the race and wound up with the bronze medal, behind the silver that was captured by Hungary's Laszlo Cseh. Lochte was timed in 4:08.09, with Cseh setting a European record of 4:06.16. Still, that time is eons behind the world of Phelps.

Taking fourth was Italian Alessio Boggiatto (4:12.16) with fifth going to countryman Luca Marin in 4:12.47. The field was rounded out by Hungary's Gergo Kis (4:12.84), Canada's Brian Johns (4:13.38) and Brazil's Thiago Pereira (4:15.40).