Facts going into the race:
Impact of morning finals:
Minimal: just one man in the final swam slower than he had in heats. Three men swam slower in the final than in the semi. What it took to qualify for the semis:
Notes on the race:
Michael Phelps (USA) was gone at 20m. He said he wanted some open water and enjoyed being out on the edge because rivals couldn't see him. They couldn't see him because he'd gone. By 100m he was 1.25sec ahead of nearest man, Park Tae-Hwan (KOR). Just a lap later, he was 1.84sec ahead. As Phelps predicted, Park did indeed bring his last 50m home faster than all others - barring Phelps, of course: 26.12 for the champ, and 26.17 for the 400m champ. At 50.29, Phelps had his feet on the wall before Jim Montgomery would have had his hand to it just one race and a world record shy of that monumental 49.99 of 1976 in the solo 100m. Can you imagine a man turning at the 100m mark of a 200m in 47.3sec 30 years from now? If Park is consistently efficient and proficient, then Phelps is that plus a heavy helping of latent power and controlled aggression. Park's 1:44.85 is faster than Pieter van den Hoogenband (NED) at his best, by just 0.04sec.
Impact of the race on the all-time top 10:
All-time top 10, end 2007:
HISTORY IN THE MAKING:
Phelps's victory drew the USA level with Australia on title count: of the 13 finals contested since 1968, the superpowers have four titles apiece. No swimmer has ever retained the crown. Phelps, with bronze in 2004, joins Holmertz (SWE, 1988, 1992), Hoogie (00, 04) and Thorpe (00, 04) as the only swimmers to have made the podium at two Games. Wenden, Spitz (AUS) and Van den Hoogenband are the three men to have claimed both 100 and 200 crowns at the same Games; Sadovyi (RUS), Loader (NZL) and Thorpe (AUS) have bridged 200 and 400m (there was no 200m in Weissmuller's day). Jon Konrads and Grant Hackett (both AUS) did not make the Olympic podium over 200m but are the only two men who held world records over 200, 400, 800 and 1,500m.
Fastest: 1:42.96, Phelps (2008)
World Record wins: Spitz, 1972; Furniss (USA), 1976; Gross (FRG), 1984; Armstrong (AUS), 1988; Van den Hoogenband (2000, equaled his semi time); Phelps (USA), 2008.
Biggest margin: Phelps's kept silver medallist Park at bay by 1.89sec in beijing, erasing the previous biggest margin set when Gross's 1:47.44 world record put him 1.66sec ahead in 1984; pioneer Frederick Lane (AUS) won by 6.2sec in 1900.
Closest shave: Sadovyi beat Holmertz (SWE) by 0.16sec in 1992; the tightest podium was the 1976 USA sweep of Furniss, Naber and Montgomery (0.29sec gold to bronze).