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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Katie Hoff really was phenomenal. I think she was a victim somewhat of the media circus back in 2008, buckling under the pressure of the intense scrutiny and a packed program (2/4/8 free, 2/4 IM and 4×2 relay is an absolutely dirty combo). Believe it or not journos, we do not need a female Michael Phelps, the male version is more than enough, so maybe no need to get on board the hype train.

However, it makes me admire people like Phelps and Thorpe all the more for delivering consistently even under immense pressure. From what I’ve seen so far, Dressel is on this track too, though handling the hoo-ha of the Olympics will be a different ball game.


I think losing that 400 free in Beijing really hurt her. At the final 50 she looked like she had the gold in the bag and was leading by over a second and then Adlington came from nowhere to overtake her at the wall.


to me the most disappointing event at the Olympics was the 800 free relay. Both Katie Hoff and Allison Schmitt went 155:8 at the trials and with the addition of Natalie coughlin I really thought they were a show in for gold.. at the time they were the three fastest Americans ever. After a pour lead off where Schmidt was 2 seconds slower then her Olympic trials time the auasie in Lane 8 we’re just 2 good ( Natalie coughlin was nearly a second slower than her best split as well)


I probably just think of that 400 free because I’m British so I remember it not just for Katie Hoff’s loss but for Great Britain’s big win coming 1st and 3rd.


She and her coach should not have yielded to the media pressure to enter in so many events, I remember that time very well. Being #1 in the US doesn’t mean automatically being #1 in the world. She was a great swimmer, olympic gold medal caliber. But emulating the event load of Phelps is something else altogether.

Phelp’s dog

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

April Fools probably


Because they were in Australia.


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


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)


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


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

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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