Phelps' assault on record books continues at worlds

Updated: March 29, 2007, 8:09 PM ET
Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia -- With Michael Phelps in the pool, the rest of the world is swimming for second place.

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The American set his third world record in as many days, winning the 200-meter individual medley at the world championships Thursday night.

"Michael is just out of reach," bronze medalist Laszlo Cseh of Hungary said.

Phelps used the same strategy he employed in winning the 200 freestyle and 200 butterfly -- go to the lead off the starting blocks and stay there.

He came home in 1 minute, 54.98 seconds, bettering his old mark of 1:55.84 set in August at the Pan Pacific championships.

"I went out there and went after it. Why stop something that works?"
-- Michael Phelps

"I went out there and went after it," he said. "Why stop something that works?"

The televised red line that shows how close swimmers are to world-record pace was on Phelps' rear as he cruised to the finish ahead of teammate Ryan Lochte and beat his previous mark by 0.86 seconds.

"I have to say that it's very impressive," said Canadian Brian Johns, who was fifth. "Not only swimming that fast, but to do it night in and night out with everybody looking at him."

Phelps pumped his right arm as he checked the scoreboard and then hugged Lochte in the lane next to him.

Phelps was under world-record pace throughout the race that features all four strokes. He became the first swimmer to win three world titles in the 200 IM and earned his record 14th world championship medal.

Lochte settled for the silver in 1:56.19. Cseh, the European champion, finished third at 1:56.92.

Phelps has also set world records in the 200 freestyle and 200 butterfly. His first gold came as part of the 400 freestyle relay.

"He is just a phenomenon, a mutant or something," U.S. women's team captain Tara Kirk said. "He's just going for personal-best times now and they just happen to be world records."

Phelps is 4-for-4 so far in his pursuit of eight gold medals. He still has the 100 butterfly, 400 individual medley and a likely spot on the 800 free relay to swim.

"He is just a phenomenon, a mutant or something. He's just going for personal-best times now and they just happen to be world records."
-- U.S. women's team captain Tara Kirk

"I'm on that track, yes, but I'm only halfway done," he said.

He is clearly enjoying his victory walks around the pool. He stopped to sign autographs, shook hands with kids and shared a few laughs with Lochte, the second-fastest man ever in the 200 IM -- behind Phelps, of course.

The night's most popular victory belonged to Aussie Jess Schipper, who had the home crowd roaring when she won the women's 200 butterfly in 2:06.39.

It was the world record-holder's first world title in the event after Schipper finished second to Otylia Jedrzejczak of Poland two years ago in Montreal.

Schipper was under her world-record pace through 100 meters, but she couldn't hold on.

American Kimberly Vandenberg, a 23-year-old former UCLA swimmer, was the surprise silver medalist in 2:06.71. Jedrzejczak, the two-time world champion, took the bronze.

Vandenberg nearly quit swimming a year ago to get a real-world job but decided to stay in the sport with the support of her family and friends.

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"This is the biggest competition I've ever had in my life. This moment tonight was what pushed me," she said. "It makes me want to train even harder and get faster. It's so amazing swimming in Australia next to Jessicah. She really pushed me to do my best. I thank her a lot for my improvement."

The festive Aussie fans stood and clapped as Schipper took her victory stroll to Men at Work's "Land Down Under."

Filippo Magnini of Italy and Brent Hayden of Canada tied for the gold in the men's 100 freestyle, a furious two-lap sprint in which a mere tenth of a second separated the top five finishers.

Magnini, the defending champion, and Hayden touched in 48.43 seconds. A thrilled Hayden threw his arms in the air to celebrate Canada's first gold of the meet. He and Magnini climbed out of the pool and embraced each other before the Italian jokingly flexed his muscles.

The duo shared the top spot on the medals podium, with the Canadian anthem playing first, followed by the Italian song, which got the crowd clapping along.

Eamon Sullivan of Australia got the bronze at 48.43. American Jason Lezak was fifth.

Pieter van den Hoogenband of the Netherlands again was denied his first world championship with a sixth-place finish. The Flying Dutchman earlier lost to Phelps in the 200 free.

South African teammates Roland Schoeman and Ryk Neethling, the second- and third-place finishers two years ago in Montreal, wound up seventh and eighth. Suzaan Van Biljon of South Africa led the way in 2:27.03.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press