Phelps’ last record was 400-meter individual medley until Leon Marchand’s incredible performance
By Scott Thompson
No one can ever take away Michael Phelps’ gold medals – 23, if you’ve counted – but his final individual world record was shattered by 21-year-old Leon Marchand of France during the 2023 World Aquatics Championships on Sunday.
Phelps had the headset on calling the 400-meter individual medley, for which he owned the record at 4.03.84 that was set at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Phelps earned himself eight gold medals during that Olympics, breaking seven world records in the process.
Marchand ended up edging out the world record, finishing butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle in order in 4.02.50 to win gold in Fukuoka, Japan.
“That was insane, one of the most painful things I’ve done,” Marchand said via the New York Post. “It was amazing to do it here and the time is crazy.
“The best is yet to come.”
Phelps was seen at the winner’s podium after the race and holding up Marchand’s hand in victory, accepting that he just watched history, and with it, his final record falling from the top.
He did so with grace and a smile on his face.
“I’m just pumped about this swim. Oh, my gosh!” Phelps was heard during the broadcast as he stood up and clapped as Marchand made his way to the pool wall to finish the race.
Marchand and Phelps do have something in common other than their skill in the 400-meter medley. Bob Bowman, who trained Phelps during his swim days, is Marchand’s trainer.
The United States’ Carson Foster finished with the silver in the race while Japan’s Daiya Seto collected bronze, which sent the home crowd into a frenzy when he came in third place.
Marchand is one of swimming’s bright young stars who qualified for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo after setting France’s record for the 400-meter individual medley at 4.09.65.
This one obviously blew it out of the water (no pun intended).
He ended up finishing sixth in the same event during the Olympics, finishing below his then-personal best at 4.11.16. He also participated in the 4×100 meter medley relay, 200 meter butterfly and 200 meter individually medley.