Without Butterfly, The 400 IM Is Michael Phelps’ Last Individual World Record


When Caeleb Dressel broke Michael Phelps‘ World Record in the semifinals of the 100 butterfly at the 2019 FINA World Championships, the Phelps era of swimming turned towards its proverbial final lap.

Two days before Dressel broke the 100 butterfly record, Hungarian Kristof Milak broke Phelps’ seemingly untouchable 200 butterfly World Record from 2009, registering a 1:50.73 to win by over three seconds–a margin also consistent with Phelps when racing the 200 fly.

Without butterfly, Michael Phelps‘ last remaining World Record is the 400 IM, set at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in 4:03.84. Phelps’ protege and former training partner Chase Kalisz seemingly inherited the mantle as King of the IMs, though he was upset by Japan’s Daiya Seto in the final of the 200 IM in Gwangju. What each man is capable of in the 400 IM this year remains to be seen, but it’s unlikely either will get close to Phelps’ mark from 2008. In fact, the closest anyone has gotten to Phelps’ time since 2008 was Ryan Lochte at the 2012 London Olympic Games when he won gold in 4:05.18.

Though Lochte fell short of breaking the World Record in the 400 IM, he has twice lowered the mark in the 200 IM. First, at the 2009 World Championships in a field without Phelps, Lochte turned in a time of 1:54.10 to surpass Phelps’ 1:54.23 from Beijing. At the 2011 World Championship, Lochte put up a 1:54.00, beating Phelps head-to-head and lowering the record again.

In addition to being an incredible individual performer, Phelps was a prominent member of American relays throughout his career, without which he would never have achieved the incredible 8 gold medal haul of the Beijing Olympics. With the aid of dozens of teammates over the years, Phelps helped to lower the World Records in the 4 x 100 freestyle relay, 4 x 100 medley relay, and 4 x 200 freestyle relay.

At the height of his career in 2009, before the World Championships began in Rome, Phelps owned 5 Individual LCM World Records:

  • 200 Freestyle – 1:42.96 (2008 Beijing Olympics)
  • 100 Butterfly – 50.22 (2009 U.S. National Championships)
  • 200 Butterfly – 1:52.03 (2008 Beijing Olympics)
  • 200 IM – 1:54.23 (2008 Beijing Olympics)
  • 400 IM – 4:03.84 (2008 Beijing Olympics)

Four of the five World Records Phelps held prior the 2009 World Championships were broken in Rome, though two of them were broken by Phelps himself–the 100 and 200 butterflys. It is worth noting that Serbia’s Milorad Cavic owned the World Record in the 100 butterfly for one day, achieving a 50.01 in the semifinals, though Phelps took it back in the finals, winning in the 49.82 that was just bested by Caeleb Dressel. At this time Phelps was also member of three relay World Records, giving him a total of 8 World Records, each of which accompanied a medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, save the 100 butterfly.

The other two records Phelps lost in Rome he never got back. One of those, the 200 freestyle, which was set by Germany’s Paul Biedermann at 1:42.00 still stands to this day. The 200 IM, meanwhile, was broken by Ryan Lochte, and then lowered by Lochte again in 2011 to the record of today.

Phelps still owns the American Record in the 200 fly at 1:51.51, set at the 2009 World Championships, as well as the American Record in the 200 freestyle at 1:42.96, set at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Phelps also retains a handful of National Age Group (NAG) Records, though with the emergence of teen phenoms Luca Urlando and Carson Foster, who specialize in butterfly and IM, respectively, Phelps’ name shows up less and less on the record books.

Individual Records Remaining:

World Records:

  • 400 IM, 2008 Beijing Olympic Games – 4:03.84

American Records:

  • 200 Butterfly, 2009 World Championships – 1:51.51
  • 200 Freestyle, 2008 Beijing Olympics – 1:42.96

National Age Group (NAG) Records:


  • 200 LCM Butterfly – 1:59.02 (2000)
  • 400 LCM IM – 4:24.77 (2000)


  • 200 LCM Butterfly – 1:54.58 (2001)
  • 400 SCY IM – 3:42.08 (2002)


  • 200 LCM Freestyle, 2003 Summer National Championships – 1:45.99
  • 100 LCM Butterfly, 2003 World Championships – 51.10
  • 200 LCM IM, 2003 World Championships – 1:55.94
  • 400 LCM IM, 2003 World Championships – 4:09.09
  • 500 SCY Freestyle – 4:12.33 (2004)

Relay Records Remaining:

World & American Records:

  • Men’s 4 x 100 LCM Freestyle Relay, 2008 Beijing Olympics – 3:08.24
    • Michael Phelps (47.51), Garrett Weber-Gale (47.02), Cullen Jones (47.65), Jason Lezak (46.06)
  • Men’s 4 x 200 LCM Freestyle Relay, 2009 World Championships – 6:58.55
  • Men’s 4 x 100 LCM Medley Relay, 2009 World Championships – 3:27.28
    • Aaron Piersol (52.19), Eric Shanteau (58.57), Michael Phelps (49.72), David Walters (46.80)

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1 year ago

That record will last until the sun starts dying and engulfs the earth
Neil degrease Tyson told me that

1 year ago

comment image

Time to take care of These younglings

Reply to  Pvdh
1 year ago

loved that one pissed of face 😅

1 year ago

That 400 IM was perfection. First swim of the games, 3:07 at the 300 and back in 56. MP is GOAT, no young bloods take that away

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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