Michael Phelps became the first man to swim the 100m butterfly in under 50 seconds in Rome Saturday night with a new world record of 49.82 seconds, bettering his mark of 50.22 set in early July.
The race, which pitted Phelps against Serb Milorad Cavic was billed as the matchup of the 13th FINA World Swimming Championships, and it didn’t disappoint.
Following some drama pre-race, including Phelps colliding in a warm up pool with an Australian swimmer, Cavic pulled ahead early and was first at the turn, with Phelps looking like he was spent in 4th place. But anyone who has ever seen Phelps swim knows that he could be last and still win at that point because he was probably just warming up.
Shifting up a gear Phelps powered home in the last 50m in a stunning finish. Notably Cavic clocked 49.95, a time that would have been a world record if it hadn’t been for Phelps going that 0.13 seconds quicker.
The win is Phelps’ fourth of the meet.