Damn the Thorpedoes
Hard as it may be for Americans to see much of what’s happening at the FINA World Championships in Melbourne, Baltimore has vested interest in two major players at the event.
Towson resident Michael Phelps utterly crushed Aussie golden boy Ian Thorpe’s record in the 200 meter freestyle Tuesday, with a new time of 1:43.86. The old standard, 1:44.06, was widely touted as practically unbeatable. American backstroker Aaron Peirsol called it “probably the single most incredible record in the books.”
“I thought this 200 freestyle record by Ian would last for 10, maybe 20 years,” Dutch competitor Pieter van den Hoogenband said.
Wednesday night, Phelps broke his own month-old record in the 200 butterfly (1:52.09), more than a second faster than the old standard (1:53.71). Then Thursday he broke another world record in the 200 Individual Medley (one lap each of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle).
Meanwhile, fellow Baltimorean and North Baltimore Aquatics Club teammate Katie Hoff won the 200 I.M., setting a new FINA World Championship record of 2:10.13. As in track events, certain records in swimming are particularly difficult to break. The 200 Freestyle is one of the harder events to swim, akin to middle distance events in running like the 800 meters. It’s a long sprint that requires both discipline and raw physical power to swim well. Still, breaking 1.62 seconds off any personal best, much less the world reocrd in the 200 Fly, is beyond significant. Things like that just don’t happen. Butterfly is the most difficult stroke to master. Phelps’ breaking of these records is proof positive that he’s the best swimmer in the world at his events, especially when you consider how much time he broke the records by. And he’s only halfway through his program!
It’s good to see B-more on the aquatics map.