April 2, 2007


After record tally, Phelps might be 'greatest swimmer' (Vicki Michaelis, 4/02/03, USA TODAY)

Even though Mark Spitz broke a world record in every event he entered in the 1972 Olympics (100 and 200 freestyle, 100 and 200 butterfly and three relays), U.S. head coach Mark Schubert said Phelps' performance is non-pareil because of his versatility in swimming the individual medleys as well as the 200 freestyle and 100 and 200 butterfly.

"His performance this week was the greatest performance of all time," Schubert said. "I just didn't notice any weak points. He can do it from behind, he can do it from in front, he can do it when it's close, he can do it when it's not close."

It also left those in his wake awed and reverential.

"He's unbelievable -- by far the greatest swimmer of all time," said Albert Subirats Altes, who finished behind Phelps and the USA's Ian Crocker in the 100 butterfly to win the first world swimming medal for Venezuela.

The Netherlands' Pieter van den Hoogenband, who won the 2000 Olympic gold and 2004 silver in the 200 freestyle, is thinking about dropping the event from his 2008 program after finishing more than two seconds behind Phelps' world-record 1 minute, 43.86 seconds here.

"I was next to him, I know how fast it is, and you have to be realistic," van den Hoogenband said. "I don't think in 18 months I will make that big a step."

The only question Phelps, 21, left dangling after eight days of jaw-dropping swims is how big a step he still can make before Beijing.

"The sky is the limit," van den Hoogenband said.

Phelps' performance is stuff of legend: Seven gold medals and five world records bring comparisons to all-time sports greats, as domination becomes watchword ahead of next year's Summer Olympics. (Lisa Dillman, April 2, 2007, LA Times)
Whether it happened to be world champions wobbling and toppling or five world records vaporizing under his golden touch, one unambiguous fact emerged after Michael Phelps' eight days and nights in a Melbourne pool.

The landscape changed after the 21-year-old won a record seven gold medals at the World Swimming Championships. No longer are comparisons merely made to swim legends, Mark Spitz and Ian Thorpe, but names such as greats Tiger Woods and Roger Federer are now included in the conversation about Phelps on the road to the Summer Olympics next year.

Frankly, this being Australia, it's surprising by Sunday he wasn't compared to Rod Laver, which happened to be the name of the arena where Phelps tried to complete his grand slam of sorts, aiming for eight gold medals in eight events. Spitz won seven gold medals in the 1972 Olympics, and Phelps won eight medals at the 2004 Olympics, six of them gold.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 2, 2007 12:00 AM
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