Michael Phelps Says Popovici Can Break the 200 Free WR, Marchand the 400 IM

by Spencer Penland 63

September 24th, 2022 News

Swimming legend Michael Phelps gave an interview with NBC Sports yesterday in which he discussed which world records he thinks are next in line to be broken.

In his interview, the 28-time Olympic medalist talks about the likelihood his 400 IM WR will be broken soon. Phelps’ record mark of 4:03.84 was set at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and is widely considered to be one of the “fastest” records currently on the books.

Nobody had been able to get near that record since Phelps set it, but this past summer, rising star Leon Marchand, a French swimmer who coincidentally now trains under Phelps’ former coach, Bob Bowman, at Arizona State University, swam a 4:04.28 at the World Championships in Budapest. With that swim, Marchand became the only swimmer other than Phelps to have cracked 4:05 in the LCM 400 IM.

Marchand is now sitting just 0.44 seconds off the WR mark, and Phelps indicated to NBC Sports that he thinks the record will be broken, though he’s hoping it will last one more year. Phelps said on the matter, “I’m excited to see a kid come up and challenge that record. That’s what I want. I would love that.”

The reason Phelps is hoping for the record to stand for another year before getting broken is because if the record lasts through next June (2023), Phelps will break the record for the longest amount of time holding an individual world record in an individual Olympic event. Phelps first broke the 400 IM WR in 2002 and has held it since then, having lowered the mark eight times throughout his career since initially breaking it.

Phelps also told NBC Sports that he’s “jealous” Marchand will get the opportunity to compete in a home Olympics in 2024, something Phelps never had the opportunity to do. He just missed out on that chance, as the 1996 Olympics were held in the United States in Atlanta, but Phelps was only 11 years old at the time. He would go on to qualify for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney as a 15-year-old.

Phelps also offered his view on another record he thinks will be going down: the men’s LCM 200 free. Paul Biedermann’s 2009 WR of 1:42.00, another WR which is widely believed to be one of the most difficult to break, is in jeopardy of being broken by breakout star David Popovici, a teenager from Romania.

Popovici was the star of the summer this year, racing in every major international competition he was eligible for, and winning the men’s 100 and 200 free in all of them. The then-17-year-old broke the longstanding 100 free world record at the European Championships this summer and posted the first sub-1:43 200 free we’ve seen since 2009.

Phelps believes Popovici has what it takes to bring that record down, something which would have seemed impossible just one year ago.

“If there’s one person on the planet that goes under 1:42 in the 200 free, it’s probably Popovici,” Phelps said.

“I mean, the kid went 46.9, 47.0, 47.0, 47.1, 47.1, 47.2 in the 100m frees this year. I pay attention to all that stuff.”

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Luigi
2 months ago

So basically Phelps’s informed and competent opinion is the same as any weekend swimmer’s on this site.

Irish Ringer
Reply to  Luigi
2 months ago

Yes, should ignore what he has to say about the sport when someone interviews him because you comment on this site.

Luigi
Reply to  Irish Ringer
2 months ago

You got me wrong

The alpha dog
2 months ago

That 400 IM WR will burn like fayah

Last edited 2 months ago by The alpha dog
nuotofan
2 months ago

About Popovici and the Goat (just for talking) .., if the amazing Romanian will go on with his dominance in the 100 and 200 free and, after Paris 2024, will begin to swim seriously also the 400 free and being the best from 100 to 400 free, and at Los Angeles 2028 winning the trifecta 100, 200 and 400 free in WRs style (for instance 46″ low in the 100 free, 1’41” low in the 200 free and 3’38” mid in the 400 free)..when will start the discussion about who is the Swimming Goat? If Popovici will win, at least 100 and 200 free, also at Olympics32?
Phelps will remain, perhaps forever, the most decorated Olympian of all time,… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by nuotofan
Peaty55Paris
Reply to  nuotofan
2 months ago

Freestyle dominance vs Michael Phelps versatility dominance. He will always be the Goat. Nobody is as versatile and dominant as he was. He is the Goat

nuotofan
Reply to  Peaty55Paris
2 months ago

More than plausible answer. Thanks.

Maverick
Reply to  nuotofan
2 months ago

What are you even talking about? You are talking about multiple perfect hypotheticals playing out to have a hypothetical convo on who the goat is.

nuotofan
Reply to  Maverick
2 months ago

Yes, I began writing “just for talking” and I was a lot unsure if writing my multiple hypotheses. I hadn’t to

Luigi
Reply to  nuotofan
2 months ago

Since when swimmers improve in longer distances as they age? It’s the other way around. If he wants to take on the 400, this is the time. Not after 2024. I know he will still be extremely young in 2025, but you need to put money in the bank before you withdraw. You don’t start training the 400 at 20.

nuotofan
Reply to  Luigi
2 months ago

Easy explanation, Luigi, with the same preliminary statement (it’s just for talking). Radulescu, Popovici’s coach, has a very prudent approach: for instance Popovici tried 400 free at Euros heats but didn’t swim the final. But Radulescu, after Euros, said that 400 free will be a likely future goal. So, I assume that Radulescu will gradually make small changes in Popovici’s way of training and in the next two years Popovici will try the 400 free, but not in the two biggest events: Worlds23 and, above all, Olympics24 because would be too risky trying the trifecta 400-200-100 free (in order of events) in Popovici’s first Olympics. So, “only” 100 and 200 free both at Fukuoka23 and Paris 24. After Paris24, if… Read more »

Luigi
Reply to  nuotofan
2 months ago

you are making a lot of assumptions, the biggest of which is that someone should train for years in an event which he does not race on the big stages. Also, I do not see how one can train and excel in both 100 and 400 free. 200 and 400, yes. 100 and 200, yes. 100 and 400, only if you give up any notion of dominating one or the other.

MIKE IN DALLAS
Reply to  nuotofan
2 months ago

Penso di ‘no’ signore!
Phelps e il piu bravo nuotatore nella storia dello sport!

nuotofan
Reply to  MIKE IN DALLAS
2 months ago

Grazie Mike, ho molto apprezzato la tua risposta (Thanks Mike, appreciated a lot your answer)

jaylin Becker
Reply to  nuotofan
2 months ago

swimming GOAT will always be phelps, but if anyone else is in the convo its Caeleb Dressel. he’s on the decline, but he holds the most world records (8), including breaking Phelps’s in a normal suit, which makes a massive difference. another thing mentioned is the 200 free wr. yes, its impressive, but yes it will be broken. You know what record might not be broken till all of us are dead? Caeleb Dressels SCY 50 free. 17.63 isn’t possible for anyone on the planet, ad likely won’t be for a long long time. However, this brings up another point. You just can’t compare Dressel and Phelps. Dressel is great at SC but is outdone by Phelps in LC. Phelps… Read more »

Jack
Reply to  nuotofan
2 months ago

If he dominates three freestyle distances, swimming times that far under established world records, I would say he’d be a lot more comparable to a Ledecky or a Thorpe than to Michael.

Phelps set WR’s in 5 individual events, was top 3 all-time in 3 other individual events, and is the only man to win an Olympic event 3 times (which he did in 3 separate events).

And then there’s the longevity. Phelps was BOTH the youngest man to ever break a world record and the oldest man to win an individual gold. Absolutely insane. (And if you’re thinking that Tony Ervin is the oldest to win an individual, you’re correct. Michael set the record at the 2016 Games… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Jack
SharkSpeed
Reply to  Jack
2 months ago

just to add up to his incredible achievements, he won 4 times in a row the same individual event at the olympics, the 200 im

Last edited 2 months ago by SharkSpeed
ur mom
Reply to  nuotofan
2 months ago

woah there dont go there with that 3:38 buddy

ooo
2 months ago

Ian Thorpe and Janet Evans should be the benchmark in term of longevity. Robbed by the rubber they are.

There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  ooo
2 months ago

Janet Evans would get an extra 4 years on her 800 WR until Ledecky comes along. Though who’s to say Becky Adlington wouldn’t have broken it even without the LZR — she was 8:17 in 2011.

Thorpe has held the 400 free WR since 1999 don’t @ me

NB1
Reply to  ooo
2 months ago

Thorpe was out at the age of 22. Evans at 25, what are you talking about?
I can rave about them all day, they were incredible, but there were/are 100s of swimmers staying on top for over 16 years, longevity is not what these two are known for

Last edited 2 months ago by NB1
Virtus
Reply to  NB1
2 months ago

He meant record longevity. Like how long it took for their records to be broken.

Owlmando
Reply to  Virtus
2 months ago

Ok maybe not hundreds but i get his point. The upper tiers of longevity are like 12-16 years. I agree that the aforementioned are not careers that have the most impressive longevity but their times remain competitive to today which is also impressive. But not the same thing as longevity

Ooo
Reply to  Virtus
2 months ago

Indeed.

Walter
Reply to  NB1
2 months ago

What 100s of swimmers are on top for 16 years? A list please.

NB1
2 months ago

who coincidentally now trains under Phelps’ former coach”
Really? Is that a coincidence?

Michael Andrew Wilson
Reply to  NB1
2 months ago

I came here to make the same comment 😂

In fairness though, Marchand did get to 4:10 without Bob. Maybe “perhaps not coincidentally” would be the most accurate.

GrameziPT
2 months ago

Marchand will break the record but not this summer. It’s gonna come at the home Olympics. In fact I predict to you guys the in Paris he and Carson both will dip under Phelps Record. Maybe the record can stay in states after all…it’s been more than 22 years of the record being in possession of an american.

Ragnar
Reply to  GrameziPT
2 months ago

Carson will be the Lochte in this rivalry, Leon will have to give it 100%. But Leon’s the man to take this event toward sub 4:03, Carson has a couple more seconds max to drop. Hopefully they progress the 200 IM back into the low 1:54s/scare that record and stay at each other’s throats until at least Paris. It’s good for the sport to have non-Americans at the top.

Erik
Reply to  Ragnar
2 months ago

I am a former DI Swimmer at the University of Iowa and State Champion from OHIO. I continue after 35 years to enjoy and follow American and International Swimmers. CARSON FOSTER is extremely talented. We have not scene a swimmer this versatile since GRANT HOUSE from St. X who NEVER lost an Individual State Title in his 4 years in High School. If Jake and Carson Foster would have swam all 4 years in high school. I believe they would have achieved what Grant House did. Nonetheless, today is 2022. Where are these 3 going? Grant is now a pro staying at ASU, under Bowman, the GOAT Olympic Coach. I hope House can get better! Now, the Carson Brothers. Jake… Read more »

Jeff
Reply to  Erik
2 months ago

People from Ohio are really the lamest

Coach
Reply to  Erik
2 months ago

The random capitalization of various words/names makes your comment a bit confusing to read.

anon
Reply to  Coach
2 months ago

but he’s a state champion from OHIO

Last edited 2 months ago by anon
Region champ
Reply to  anon
2 months ago

Are you?

ZH....
Reply to  Erik
2 months ago

Who’s Grant House?

Signed,

David Nolan

Joel Lin
Reply to  Ragnar
2 months ago

Carson has great things ahead. Two years is a long time for both he and Marchand to improve. I don’t doubt that Carson’s best will make it a spectacular race in 2023 and in 2024. He could win gold. He has the ability.

Swammer
Reply to  Ragnar
2 months ago

I’m concerned that Carson is going to be the Lochte to Marchand’s Phelps. Hopefully he can get away a little bit like Lochte did with the 200 back. I can’t deny that it would be great for the sport to have Marchand on top with CF chasing him, but I’d hate to see a great swimmer relegated to second fiddle again

Troyy
Reply to  Swammer
2 months ago

Would you care if it were a non-American relegated to second fiddle?

John26
Reply to  GrameziPT
2 months ago

We don’t know if I’m 2023, the 400IM is first day like this year or last day like normal. If it’s the last day, I suppose you’re right- it may not go til Paris.

John26
Reply to  GrameziPT
2 months ago

Given the weakness in 200back right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if Carson took up the 200back as his 3rd individual event in Paris. It seems like 1:53mid will win it and Carson is definitely capable of that.

Andrew
2 months ago

Supersuits take off roughly a second per 100 meters, IMO they shouldn’t still be recognized as WRs. Most swimmers agree with this.

get a poll
Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

“most swimmers agree with this” is absolutely false

Hank
Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

Phelps wore a supersuit in Beijing. Granted it wasn’t the same tech as some of the 2009 records but without his Speedo LZR he probably would have went 4:05 low to mid and 200free maybe a 1:43 high to 1:44 low.

Last edited 2 months ago by Hank
nuotofan
Reply to  Hank
2 months ago

Useless assumptions imo, because : 1) Speedo LZR was an “half supersuit” (or even less) vs the real 2009 supersuits (before Worlds09 Speedo LZR was the most abandoned suit in swimming history) 2) Both half and full supersuits provided different advantages to different swimmers. The most efficient swimmers like Phelps were the less advantaged. I remind that in the 400 IM Phelps was 4.05 in a 2007 textile jammers at Worlds 2007 after an heavy week of races and without competitors to push him: I don’t think that in his first race at Olympics08, with Lochte and Cseh more dangerous that in 2007, Phelps, also in a textile suit, wouldn’t have swum a better time that in 2007 (so for… Read more »

GrameziPT
Reply to  nuotofan
2 months ago

Phelps was 4.06 in 2007

nuotofan
Reply to  GrameziPT
2 months ago

Yes, right.

MarkB
Reply to  Hank
2 months ago

Maybe he would have gone those times.

mahaney
Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

most of the people on here are or were swimmers and most of them seem to disagree with you. huh.

Ragnar
Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

They were legal at the time, and certainly didn’t help all swimmers equally. Popovici wouldn’t have been impacted more than half a second by the suit in the 200, he’s already as streamlined as it gets. The guys that bench 315, yeah that helped them. But with the 2008 games being arguably the most successful ever, and Phelps dominance raising the sports population, bringing in the top flight athletes like Leon’s and Milaks and Caelebs and Popovici into swimming and not something else, the super suits were worth it

Pillow
Reply to  Ragnar
2 months ago

Agreed. The havoc of the supersuits and ensuing drama in the 2008-2009 period mythologised the insane times that still are/had survived today. I honestly don’t think anyone would have the motivation to go a 1:50.xx in the 200m Fly, a sub 4:05 400 IM, a 46.xx 100 Free or even a 1:42 200 Free without that era.

There comes a point in some sports where performance seems to plateau when the technology involved has progressed far enough, the disturbance of the supersuits era while contreversial, was probably the best factor in paving forward the future of swimming as a sport, publicity and performance wise

Meathead
Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

Andrew clearly swam in the early 2000’s, missed out on the super suit era and is embarrassed by his best times

Radiogaga
2 months ago

Phelps is a great person and should be the voice for swimming on TV! I love his insight, wit and humility. Hats off the the GOAT!

My Runner, My Man
Reply to  Radiogaga
2 months ago

Phelps and wit don’t belong in the same sentence.