TritonWear and Swim Swam are bringing you the best in swimming race analysis. With the power of TritonWear, you can have an in-depth analysis of your practice every day with zero effort. Today we are having a closer look of one of the fiercest duels of 2007 FINA World Championship: Michael Phelps vs. Pieter van den Hoogenband.
The most epic showdown between rivals Michael Phelps and Pieter van den Hoogenband was in the 200 freestyle on day three of the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne. Phelps had already earned his reputation as one of the greatest swimmers in the world, but his Dutch competitor was a serious threat with multiple Olympic and World Championship medals to his name. Also in the mix was Korean freestyler Park Tae-Hwan, who had already claimed the 400 freestyle gold medal on the first day of competition.
The opening 100 of the race fueled the hype as Phelps and van den Hoogenband flipped almost neck-and-neck with splits of 51.00 and 51.17 respectively. Yet despite the similarities in their times, the two swimmers showed big disparities in other metrics that would end up making the difference in the end. Phelps was much stronger underwater than van den Hoogenband, giving him an advantage on each turn so that the Dutch swimmer had to work extra hard to keep pace. Phelps’ stroke rate was more relaxed and his stroke count was lower than his competitor’s, yet he still managed to maintain speed. This high efficiency is reflected in his stroke index values, which were significantly greater than van den Hoogenband’s over the entirety of the swim – a fact that would give him a big advantage at the end of the race.
Though Park closed the gap on the third 50 and it appeared as though van den Hoogenband might be able to challenge Phelps as they approached the 150 meter mark. But Phelps had far too much energy left in the tank. He absolutely destroyed van den Hoogenband on the last 50. Blasting off the final turn, he spent two seconds longer underwater as he surged ahead with powerful dolphin kicks. This last turn was actually the longest Phelps stayed underwater of any, demonstrating his incredible stamina at the end of races. After a strong breakout, he maintained his stroke rate and managed to increase his speed to 1.91 m/s, higher than his previous two 50s.
As the swimmers charged down the final stretch, Phelps extended his lead until he was over a body length and a half ahead of his Dutch competitor. His last 50 was the most impressive, dropping his split below that of his previous two 50s to a speedy 26.13, a full two seconds faster than van den Hoogenband. It was this final push at the end that allowed him to overtake the world record line set by Ian Thorpe. He touched for gold in a time of 1:43.86, and in doing so became the first man under 1:44 and set a record for the greatest margin of victory. Though Phelps ran away with the victory in the end, this was an epic showdown for the history books.
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Swimming analysis is courtesy of Tritonwear, a SwimSwam partner.