Marchand Smashes Phelps’ Last Remaining World Record

Phelps's benchmark of 4:03.84 had stood since the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was the longest-held world record in swimming.


(L-R) Gold medallist France’s Leon Marchand celebrates with former US swimmer Michael Phelps during the medals ceremony for men’s 400m medley swimming event during the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka on July 23, 2023. (Photo by MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP)

 

France’s Leon Marchand smashed Michael Phelps’s last remaining world record on Sunday, winning the men’s 400m individual medley at swimming’s world championships in Japan.

Marchand clocked 4 min, 02.50 sec to take more than a second off Phelps’s record.

Phelps’s benchmark of 4:03.84 had stood since the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was the longest-held world record in swimming.

Marchand is set to be one of the faces of next year’s Paris Olympics and he warned that “the best is yet to come”.

“It was insane,” the 21-year-old said.

“That was one of the most painful things I did. That was amazing to do it here. The time is crazy.”

France’s Leon Marchand reacts after winning in the final of the men’s 400m medley swimming event during the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka on July 23, 2023. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP)

 

Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time with a record 28 medals, was on hand to present Marchand with his gold.

Marchand said the American great was “impressed by the time” and told him that he can continue to improve.

“He was commentating the race so it was pretty cool to see that,” said Marchand, who is coached by Phelps’s former mentor Bob Bowman.

“He told me so many things to improve for next time.”

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Marchand finished ahead of American Carson Foster, who clocked 4:06.56, and Japan’s Daiya Seto, who was third in 4:09.41.

Foster said it was “pretty cool” to watch Marchand break Phelps’s record.

“Obviously the goal is always to win and Leon is a great competitor,” Foster said.

“Being the closest person to history was pretty cool, getting a front-row seat to that.”

Marchand swam the second-fastest 400 IM ever at last year’s world championships in Budapest, coming home in 4:04.28.

He said he had worked on his weaknesses since last year and was pleased with how he executed the race.

Gold medallist France’s Leon Marchand poses after the medals ceremony for men’s 400m medley swimming event during the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka on July 23, 2023. (Photo by Yuichi YAMAZAKI / AFP)

 

“I put the right pace at the beginning so I could go fast and I finished very fast as well,” he said.

Marchand insisted on Saturday that breaking the record would be just “a step in my journey”.

He is set to be one of France’s biggest medal hopes at the Paris Olympics next year and he insisted that he can cope with expectations.

“I think I can handle the pressure pretty well right now,” he said.

“It’s not perfect, it can better. I have one year to improve before next year so I’m just focusing on this week.”

Marchand is set to defend his world title in the 200m individual medley this week in Fukuoka.

He will also compete in the 200m butterfly, although his participation in the 200m breaststroke is still to be decided.

AFP