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.”