INDIANAPOLIS, July 10 – Michael Phelps broke the 100m butterfly world record Thursday, clocking 50.22sec to win the title at the USA Swimming World Championship trials.Phelps broke the previous record of 50.40sec set by Ian Crocker on July 30, 2005 at the World Championships in Montreal.
The record takes Phelps’s current tally of world marks to five, along with the 200m freestyle, 200m butterfly and 200m and 400m individual medley.
The American had won the 100m fly title at the past two Olympic Games, but hadn’t been able to wrest the world record from Crocker.
Phelps had held the 100 fly world mark before – for a day. He broke it in the semi-finals at the 2003 World Championships, only to have Crocker lower the mark in winning the final the following day in Barcelona.
"I still remember the day at worlds when I broke it and the next day Crock broke it, and Crock’s had it ever since," he said. "To finally be able to get it tonight means a lot."
Phelps, known for his strong finish, said he had been working on his early speed as he eyes a new programme for the upcoming World Championships in Rome and beyond.
He led at the 50m mark with a split of 23.83, still outside Crocker’s world record pace. He pulled away coming home, leaving Tyler McGill to finish second in 51.06 and Aaron Peirsol – better known as a dominant backstroker – third in 51.30.
"Crock had a ton more first 50 speed than I did. That’s something I’ve really been working on," Phelps said. "I’ve always been able to come home pretty strong. I finally got the front half a little bit faster. If I can get that even faster, I’ll be in better shape."
Phelps said he chopped a stroke coming into the wall at the turn. His coach, Bob Bowman, said Phelps could have been under 50 seconds if not for that error.
"I think he could have done it tonight if he had hit the turn," Bowman said.
Phelps made it clear he was targetting the record after swimming 50.48sec at the Canada Cup in Montreal last month.
He said Crocker had sent him a text message after that performance, telling him the record was within his grasp.
Crocker hasn’t competed since the Beijing Olympics, where he was never a factor in the 100m fly that Phelps won by a hair’s breadth over Serbia’s Milorad Cavic to claim one of his record eight gold medals of the Games.