Dolfin Swim of the Week: Phelps/Hoff Clearout of 400 IM WRs Was No April Fools

Disclaimer: Dolfin Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The  Dolfin Swim is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

As the sport joins the rest of the world in quarantine for the next few weeks, we’re using our Swim of the Week to look back at this week in history.

On April 1, 2007, North Baltimore Aquatic Club training partners Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff each shattered world records in the 400 IM – a great April Fools joke on prior swimming history.

The meet was the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne, Australia, with the 400 IMs coming on the very last day of competition.

For Phelps, it was far from his first brush with the world record books. In fact, Phelps had already held this particular world record for nearly five years and had broken it five previous times. He went 4:11.09 in 2002 to first take over the record, smashing the 4:11.76 set by Tom Dolan in 2000. Phelps would lower the mark twice each in 2003 and 2004, and by 2007, he was down to 4:06.22. At the time, Phelps was three seconds faster than anyone else in history, and he won that world title by 3.5 seconds over teammate Ryan Lochte, then the #3 performer in history.

But his North Baltimore Aquatic Club teammate Katie Hoff made her first-ever foray into the world record books on that day. Just three events after Phelps’ swim, Hoff went 4:32.89 to crush a seven-year-old world record of 4:33.59 set by Yana Klachkova in 2000.

It was Hoff’s second-straight world title in the 400 IM. She would hold the world record until March of 2008, when Stephanie Rice broke it at Australian Olympic Trials. Hoff retook the record at U.S. Trials just a few months later, but Rice took the record for good at the Beijing Olympics.

Phelps still holds that 400 IM world record – he’s held it for nearly 18 years and remains 1.3 seconds ahead of Lochte, the #2 swimmer all-time. Hoff remains #8 all-time among women, and is still the American record-holder.


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4 years ago

I am unsure about referencing Hoff and Phelps as training partners. They each represented North Baltimore Aquatic Club, and thus were teammates, but I thought they trained at different hubs in the NBAC system, Hoff generally with Paul Yetter and Phelps with Bob Bowman. I suspect the club had occasional joint practices, but I think of training partners as in the pool together 4-5 days a week, which I had always understood not to be the case here. Either way, they each had pretty good preparations through this period.

4 years ago

What’s the longest anyone has held a single world record in swimming? 18 years has got to be up there…

Reply to  DMacNCheez
4 years ago

The first ones that comes to mind are Mary T. Meagher who held the 200 fly WR from July 1979 to May 2000 and Janet Evans in the 800 fr. (May 1988 – August 2008).

Unless Seto explodes next year, Phelps’s 400 IM is likely to pass them.

The Men’s 200 and 800 fr and women’s 200 fly from 2009 could all also conceivably hold up for another 10+ years as well (you could also throw in the 400 fr given that Thorpe’s 2002 is still the second fastest ever).


Speaking of Thorpe’s 400 free, if Biedermann hadn’t topped it .01 sec. in Rome, Thorpe would have held (and still be holding) the 400 WR since Aug 1999.

Reply to  frug
4 years ago

I wish that were so. Thorpe deserves it.. when did he swim his fastest time though ? 2001?

Reply to  Samesame
4 years ago

2002. Where he pulled the brake at the end, or he would have been 3:39…

Mr Piano
Reply to  Samesame
4 years ago

Yeah, 16 year old Thorpe in a brief would have won worlds by a second lmao.

4 years ago

400 im probably gonna be one of the longest standing records in the books, like the guy who wants to break this record has to LOVE a grueling 400 im

4 years ago

Greece had a strong swimming contingent coming out of the Athens games… 2 finalists in the 400 IM, others in the 50 back and 200 fly, multiple semifinalists, a top-12 relay… crazy to think how its financial situation totally destroyed its athletes after this.

Reply to  wokebanana
4 years ago

I’m not doubting you, but I’m intrigued. Do you have any more insight on how Greece’s financial issues impacted its athletes, swimmers in particular?

4 years ago

A fine career nonetheless, but it’s a travesty that Hoff didn’t win an Olympic gold medal. I thought she’d raced that tactical 400fr final to perfection, she looked home and hosed 25m out; How Adlington reeled her in I’ll never know. With my Brit hat on, that race is still my favourite moment in the pool. Two Brits on a swimming podium – Something very rare unless youre an American or Aussie.

Reply to  Dee
4 years ago

Loved the commentators in that race and how they got excited when Adlington beat Hoff and then Jackson got bronze.

Mr Piano
4 years ago

Imo Phelps’s 400 IM in 07 was the most impressive of all time. We talk about the 17 races Phelps swam in Beijing, and how hard it was for him to swim the 100 fly at the end. But people forget that Phelps’s 400 IM in 2007 was his 16th race of the meet.

At the beginning he led off the 4 free relay in 48.4
Then he went 1:43.8 in the 200 free, then went like 1:54 in the 200 fly semi
Then he went 1:52.09 in 200 fly in jammers
Had the 800 free relay
1:54.9 200 IM
50.7 100 fly

And finally at the end of all that, where other… Read more »

4 years ago

I miss watching Katie swim the 400 IM. Such an incredible athlete!

Phelp’s dog
4 years ago

The real question is why we’re worlds in March/April in 2007

Reply to  Phelp’s dog
4 years ago

April Fools probably

Reply to  Phelp’s dog
4 years ago

Because they were in Australia.

Reply to  MarkB
4 years ago

It wasn’t an outdoor pool, and they still have a July/August in Australia…

Reply to  Swimmer
4 years ago

I thought it was in the outdoor pool? Plus it’s freezing in Melbourne in July. I’m sure the Northern Hemisphere swimmers can occasionally adapt to the Southern Hemisphere’s swimmers’ season for once .( instead of vice versa)

Reply to  Swimmer
4 years ago

The open water wasn’t indoor. July and August are winter in Australia.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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