Phelps' rival Hackett sets 800 freestyle world record

Australian tops Jensen, beats mark by half-second


July 28, 2005|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

MONTREAL - It was a dreary, rainy day yesterday at Parc Jean-Drapeau. Three days of sunshine were replaced by gray clouds, and sporadic raindrops peppered both spectators and athletes on hand for the FINA World Championships.

It was not, however, a bad day for swimming. Baltimore's Michael Phelps didn't race in a final for the first time this week, but he still swam four times, cruising through the quarterfinal and semifinal heats in the 100-meter freestyle and the 200 individual medley. He'll race in the final of both events this evening.

The most impressive performance yesterday, however, clearly belonged to one of Phelps' chief rivals, Grant Hackett of Australia. Hackett set a world record in the 800 freestyle, finishing in 7 minutes, 38.65 seconds, beating by a half-second the time set by his countryman, Ian Thorpe, in 2001 at the World Championships in Japan.

Hackett, who has been swimming in Thorpe's shadow for several years, was ecstatic upon seeing the result, and he shouted toward the sky and pumped his fist repeatedly at the conclusion of the race.

"Breaking one of Ian's records is really a tremendous honor," Hackett said. "I think he's not only one of the greatest swimmers in history, but one of the greatest athletes in history."

Hackett now owns the world record in the 800 meters and the 1,500 meters, something that hasn't been done since Australia's Kieren Perkins held both marks from 1992 through 2001.

"It was kind of a tremendous sense of relief as well," Hackett said. "Being the 1,500 record holder, you want the 800 as well. It's something I've had my eye on."

Just how fast was Hackett? American Larsen Jensen finished second, set a new American record in the process, and he still finished nearly seven seconds behind Hackett.

"During the race, I was thinking, `Damn, I hope he's setting a world record, because he's pretty far ahead of me,'" Jensen said. "I knew whatever my time was, it was going to be second place."

Phelps, who beat Hackett on Tuesday in the 200 freestyle for his first gold medal of these world championships, was solid, though not spectacular in his two events. In the 100 freestyle - a race Phelps didn't enter in Athens - he swam the slowest initial 50 meters of any of the 16 competitors (23.99 seconds), but he closed impressively to finish with the fifth-fastest time, clocking in at 48.93 seconds.

In the 200 individual medley semifinals, Phelps (the world-record holder in the event) finished with the second-fastest time behind American Ryan Lochte.

"The 100 [freestyle] was actually my first time under 24 seconds [through 50 meters], so that was good," Phelps said. "I was able to get enough breaths, and was able to recover for the 200 [individual medley], so we'll see if I can do it one more day."

Katie Hoff of Towson also will race again today as part of the 800 freestyle relay. Hoff won gold in the 200 individual medley Monday.

Remaining events

Michael Phelps

Today: 100-meter freestyle (finals); 200 individual medley (finals)

Tomorrow: 100 butterfly (preliminaries, semifinals); 800 freestyle relay (semifinals, finals)

Saturday: 100 butterfly (finals)

Sunday: 400 medley relay (semifinals, finals)

Katie Hoff

Today: 800 freestyle relay (semifinals, finals)

Sunday: 400 individual medley (semifinals, finals)

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