Swim Poll of the Week: 51% Believe Michael Phelps’ Best Race of His Career is Beijing 400 IM

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This is the Swim Poll of the Week for Wednesday June 3, 2020, sponsored by Strechcordz Swim Training Products. In our last poll, we wanted to know: What do you believe was Michael Phelps’ best swim of his career?

Michael Phelps made a huge name for himself and the sport of swimming when he won eight Olympic gold medals in 2008, culminating years and years of hard work into the single greatest performance by any swimmer in one meet. A couple weeks ago, Phelps’ coach for his whole career Bob Bowman chatted with our very own John Lohn to rank Phelps’ best swims from his long career. The top three choices by Bowman all came from the Beijing Games.

He described them as:

3. 2008 Olympic Games – 100 Butterfly (50.58)

Note: Already with six gold medals secured, Phelps faced his final individual test in the 100 fly. With the United States heavily favored to win the medley relay, a victory in the 100 fly would make eight gold medals a near lock. With 10 meters left, it looked like Phelps’ perfection would end, as Serbia’s Milorad Cavic had a clear lead. But Phelps’ instincts kicked in just before the finish and he took an extra half-stroke into the wall as Cavic glided. The decision turned out to be the wisest of Phelps’ career, as he won by the slimmest of margins, 50.58 to 50.59. Footage of the touch showed Phelps getting his fingers on the wall just before Cavic, which meant his pursuit of eight gold medals remained alive and was fulfilled a day later.

2. 2008 Olympic Games – 400 Individual Medley (4:03.84)

Note: Every push for greatness starts somewhere and Phelps’ eight-gold week in Beijing began with a dazzling exhibition in the 400 individual medley. Over eight laps, Phelps put on a show and took the world record down by more than a second to 4:03.84, where it remains to this day. The race provided Phelps with momentum to carry into the remainder of the meet and made it clear that he had brought his best stuff to the Water Cube.

Bob Bowman’s Assessment: “We thought that time was reasonable. It was very important to get off to a good start. We always knew when his first event was good, the rest were going to be good. That got the ball rolling.”

1. 2008 Olympic Games – 200 Freestyle (1:42.96)

Note: This race was over on the start. While Phelps has been known for remarkable finishes and his ability to run down the opposition, the 200 freestyle at the Beijing Games was a four-lap coronation. Phelps opened up a body-length lead by the 50-meter mark and kept widening his advantage with every stroke, until he touched in world-record time, and the first sub-1:43 performance in history.

Bob Bowman’s Assessment: “I think that’s as close to flawless as they come. His underwaters were great, he paced it correctly and he was just so much better than anyone. I knew on the breakout. I though, ‘Here it goes.’ After his first event and then the relay (the comeback over France), we could relax a little.”

So for the swim poll, the question remains: What was Michael Phelps’ best swim of his career?

We asked for the swim poll and you answered with…

Here are the swim poll answers:

Beijing 400 IM — 51%

Beijing 100 Butterfly – 28%

Beijing 200 Freestyle — 21%


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