FUKUOKA, Japan — French 22-year-old Leon Marchand broke Michael Phelps’ world record in the men’s 400-meter individual medley in a time of 4 minutes, 2.50 seconds Sunday.
Phelps set the old record of 4:03.84 at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but he broke his own mark in that race. He held the 400 IM record for more than 20 years.
Marchand set the record on the first day of eight in the pool at the World Aquatics Championships.
It was the last individual record that Phelps held since retiring for good after the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Phelps is the most accomplished swimmer in the history of the sport with 23 Olympic gold medals and 28 overall Olympic medals.
Phelps, who was born in Baltimore and went to Towson High School, was in Japan to comment for television. He presented the gold medal to Marchand, who said Phelps offered a tip, which was to finish his freestyle leg faster.
“That was insane,” Marchand said after obliterating Phelps’ record by more than a second. “That was one of the most painful things. That was just amazing to do it here. I mean, the time is crazy.”
Marchand then added: “The best is yet to come.”
“[Phelps] was very impressed by the time,” Marchand said. “He was commenting the race. It was pretty cool to see that.”
Marchand is coached at Arizona State University by Bob Bowman, who is also the head coach of the American team at the worlds and also coached Phelps.
Marchand said he’s prepared for the pressure of next year’s Paris Olympics, where he is sure to be the face of the French Games.
“I think I can handle the pressure pretty well right now,” Marchand said. “It’s not perfect and I can get better and I have one year to improve.”
Marchand’s race was never in doubt. He assumed the lead 40 meters in and steamed home the rest of the way.
American Carson Foster (4:06.56) picked up the silver, while Daiya Seto of Japan (4:09.41) collected the bronze.