20 Years, 342 Days Later, New Name on Swimming Mark

Leon Marchand, 21, erases last record held by Michael Phelps
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2023 8:27 AM CDT
'Uh Oh, It's Gone.' Phelps' Last Swimming Record Erased
Swimming great Michael Phelps, right, holds up the arm of Leon Marchand of France during a medal ceremony for the men's 400m individual medley final at the World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, Sunday, July 23, 2023.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

For the first time in more than two decades, Michael Phelps no longer holds an individual world record in swimming. Leon Marchand, a 21-year-old from France, erased the last one held by Phelps by demolishing the mark in the 400 meters individual medley, reports CNN. Marchand swam the event over the weekend at the World Aquatics Championships in Fukoka, Japan, in a time of 4:02.50, smashing the old mark by 1.34 seconds. (Watch it here.) "That was insane, one of the most painful things I've done," he said after the race, at which Phelps was there to congratulate him. "The best is yet to come."

Sports Illustrated, which pronounces the start of the "Leon Marchand Era," notes that Phelps first set the record in what it calls swimming's most difficult race back in 2002 as a 17-year-old. He then kept re-breaking his own mark, the last time in 2008, and ended up having his name on the record for 20 years and 342 days—which is in itself a record. Phelps was in Japan as a broadcast analyst, where he raised the possibility of Marchand one day swimming the event in a once-unthinkable time of below 4 minutes. His reaction mid-race to what Marchand was doing to his record: "Uh oh, it's gone." (More Michael Phelps stories.)

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