Fri, Mar 30, 2007 - Page 24 News List

Phelps the phenomenon seals fourth gold in Melbourne


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

Phelps set his third world record in as many days, winning the 200m individual medley at the world championships yesterday.

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

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

US backstroker Leila Vaziri and the US women's 800m freestyle relay team also got in on the act.

Vaziri equaled her 50m world record by claiming gold in the non-Olympic event, clocking 28.16 seconds to match the time she set in Wednesday's semi-finals.

The relay team finished in 7:50.09, breaking the previous mark of 7:50.82 set by Germany last August at the European championships.

Phelps 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," 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, 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 200m 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 200m freestyle and 200m butterfly. His first gold came as part of the 400m freestyle relay.

"He is just a phenomenon, a mutant or something," US 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 100m butterfly, 400m individual medley and a likely spot on the 800m free relay to swim.

The night's most popular victory belonged to Aussie Jess Schipper, who had the home crowd roaring when she won the women's 200m 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 100m, but she couldn't hold on.

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

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