Phelps on Milak’s 200 Fly Record: ‘I Couldn’t Be Happier to See How He Did It’


After 18 years of having the 200 fly world record on lockdown, Michael Phelps lost it this morning to Hungary’s Kristof Milak, who destroyed his old record.

Milak went 1:50.73, a whopping .78 under Phelps’ longstanding record of 1:51.51 from 2009. That swim came during the super-suit era, and since then, Milak’s 1:52.71 from last year had come closest to it.

Milak opened his race in the exact same 100 split Phelps did all those years ago: 52.88. But he closed in 57.85 (versus Phelps’ 58.63) to seal the record. Asked about the swim by The New York Times’ Karen Crouse, Phelps had nothing but praise for the 19-year-old.

“As frustrated as I am to see that record go down, I couldn’t be happier to see how he did it,” Phelps said. “That kid’s last 100 was incredible. He put together a great 200 fly from start to finish.”

The 23-time Olympic gold medalist went on to call Milak’s stroke “beautiful.”

“It happened because there was a kid who wanted to do it, who dreamed of doing it, who figured out what it would take to do it, who worked on his technique until it was beautiful and who put in the really, really hard work that it takes to do it,” he said. “My hat’s off to him.”

After winning gold by over two seconds ahead of Japan’s Daiya Seto (1:53.86), Milak said he wasn’t “expecting” the record, but “was prepared for it.” He added that he noticed bronze medalist and 2012 200 fly Olympic champion Chad le Clos with him two lanes over at the 100-mark, but then honed in on his own race. “But once I did my dolphin kicks, I started to focus solely on myself,” Milak told the Times through an interpreter. “I didn’t think of anything else, just my rhythm that I practice in training.”


In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
6-Beat Kick
4 years ago

I think the moral of the story is you just never know.

4 years ago

By over three seconds

4 years ago

Everyone is missing the point. It’s not about how much faster Phelps would have been if he would have trained for/competed in only one or two individual events – it’s how fast he would have been if he would have done any real training between Beijing and London. I don’t think people understand the absolute lack of work Phelps did particularly between 2009-2011.

Phelps was in the prime of his life athletically between ‘08-‘12, and he did almost no training during this time. The best swimmer in history was never in peak fitness during the peak athletic time of his life. We’ll never know how fast he could have been because many of his records could have been faster (200… Read more »

Reply to  AAAA
4 years ago

I don’t know if I agree with that. Those breaks may have been what he needed to be able to stay in the sport as long as he did. No one knows how mentally and physically draining it is to go as fast as he was going and still be expected to go faster again and again.

4 years ago

Beautifully and extremely truthful response from Phelps! He continues to be a class act! Hats off to Malik on an amazing and beautiful race!

4 years ago

If Phelps’ googles hadn’t filled up during 2008’s Olympics, he was going 1:50 mid for sure.

Reply to  Rishabh
4 years ago

I agree but it doesn’t matter much. He did what he did. Now it’s Milak’s time.

4 years ago

Why is he frustrated? Doesn’t he like to see fast swimming?

Reply to  Wondering
4 years ago

Because it’s frustrating to see your own record get broken. I was part of a team that set a relay record last year, and this year it got broken by a squad of my friends – who I train with every day and root for a lot. I was really really happy for them, but it still stung a little to lose the record.

Reply to  Wondering
4 years ago

My guess is that it’s because one of the things that made Phelps so successful is that he’s hyper-competitive and hates to lose. Even in retirement, it’s annoying to him to have someone beat one of his times. I think the rational, mature side of him is excited and happy for Milak, but the competitive response is a bit more emotional so some frustration is probably inevitable.

4 years ago

I think the most important thing about Phelps aren’t his times…it’s the legacy that he left behind.

Justin Thompson
4 years ago

A lot of comments on what Phelps could have done if he just focused on the fly events. While possible he could have been quicker in the 100/200 fly, we would have missed out on seeing the 🐐 and everything that made him the greatest ever.

Reply to  Justin Thompson
4 years ago

My favorite races of Phelps were his backstroke races when he would give it his all against peirsol lochte. He had some close calls to the 100 back world record summer of 2007. I remember club wolverine doing a medley at nationals in a last digit effort.

Reply to  Xman
4 years ago

Yeah IMO 2007 was Phelps best season. For as great as his 2008 Olympics were they could’ve been even greater had he not broken his wrist in november and was able to fully ride that insane season’s moment into 2008. Oh well what we got was legendary anyway…

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

Read More »