Phelps Joins Greatest Gold Club: WR 1:42.96 200 Free
Craig Lord
Superfish joins Nurmi, Latynina, Spitz and Lewis on nine Olympic gold medals. One more, and he has the greatest tally of all time, all sports


It is now official: Michael Phelps (USA) is as great as the greatest on gold-medal count. There are no superlatives worthy of what just unfolded: a world record of 1:42.96 in the 200m freestyle. Imagine, more than a second ahead of Ian Thorpe at his best. It was like watching a killer whale with the brain of Einstein. Bob Bowman's composition is a masterful work indeed.


  • The splits: 24.31 50.29 1:16.84; 1:42.96
  • Former WR: 24.47; 51.00; 1:17.73; 1:43.86


Silver went to Park Tae-hwan  (KOR) in 1:44.85 and bronze to Peter Vanderkaay (USA) in 1:45.14.

The race produced the fastest field in history:


  • Beijing AM: 1:42.96 - 1:47.47
  • Melbourne 2007 PM: 1:43.86 - 1:49.13
  • Athens 2004 PM:  1:44.71 - 1:48.40


No quarter was given, no prisoners taken. Phelps had crushed the field no less than 20m into the race. In the modern era,  Michael "the Albatross" Gross's 1:47.44 world record put him 1.66sec ahead in 1984. Phelps takes the record for biggest win in the modern era: 1.89sec. Pioneer Frederick Lane (AUS) won by 6.2sec in 1900.

"That's great," said Phelps as he emerged from the 200m free final. "I just wanted to be out on my own which I had done by the 100 metres mark, that was my goal. I was out in open water and I was in the middle, which makes it difficult for the other guys to see me." To see him? They would have needed to have someone invent the binocular-goggle.

A little over an hour after the 200m freestyle final, in the second semi-final of the 200m butterfly, Phelps did just enough to ensure progression - not only to the final but inlane 4. His time of 1:53.70 set an Olympic record. Faster than his win in Athens 2004 and faster than any other man has ever swum. Only his own world record of 1:52.09 stretched ahead of him.