BARCELONA, Spain - There was a poignant meeting in the stands at Palau Sant Jordi, after the award ceremony in the 200-meter individual medley at the 10th FINA World Championships yesterday.
The two best swimmers in the world were on the awards stand, Michael Phelps on the top and Australian Ian Thorpe to his right, on the spot reserved for the silver-medal winner.
Flanked by Thorpe and Italy's Massimiliano Rosolini, the bronze medalist, Phelps posed for photographers.
Thorpe, only 20 himself and dethroned as the king of the sport, put his long right arm around Phelps. As they exited the platform, Phelps threw the stuffed doll that is the mascot of the meet he had just received into the stands, where dozens scrambled to catch it.
In the stands, Debbie Phelps, a Baltimore County educator, was nearly overcome with emotion after her son - still only 18 - had become the first man ever to set world records in individual events in the same day.
Even more impressive, there were only 46 minutes between his 100-meter butterfly (51.47 seconds) and his 200 IM (1:56.04).
"When I talked to him last Friday, he said he was ready to swim," Debbie Phelps said. "He's very focused, and he has a vision. I've got a very warm feeling in my heart right now."
At that, a redheaded stranger came up and introduced herself. It was Margaret Thorpe, Ian's mother, with congratulations and a hug. Then they began to chat about the admiration they have for each other's boy.
Even without Phelps' second world record of the night, his first, in the semifinals of the 100 butterfly, would have been news enough. It was his third world record in as many semifinal swims in the meet.
Phelps' competitive instincts actually got the best of him yesterday morning in the prelims of the 100 fly, his "hump" swim, the seventh of his 13 races here.
Behind American teammate Ian Crocker's world-record pace at the turn, Phelps passed him and had the fastest time of the morning. Had he let Crocker win, Phelps would have been in the first semifinal last night, rather than the second, and gained an extra five minutes' rest before the 200 IM.
Upon further review, that really didn't matter.
"I didn't know how I was going to feel after that 100 fly," Phelps said, "but everything went well."
There are no semis in his fourth and final individual race. Tomorrow's 400 IM consists of preliminaries in the morning and the final at night.
World-record holders are automatically submitted to drug testing, but at least Phelps only had to give one blood sample last night.
The rest of the swim world, starting with his coach, seemed more impressed with Phelps' historic night than he did.
"I'm not even sure I fully understand what he just did," Bob Bowman of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club said. "I feel so blessed to work with such a gifted athlete. He's what every coach dreams of."
Thorpe, who was one of the most hyped athletes heading into the 2000 Olympics in his hometown of Sydney, was asked if he had any advice regarding the attention Phelps will face leading up to next summer's Olympics in Athens, Greece.
"I don't see why I need to give him any advice," Thorpe said. "Any advice I'd give him, I'd do it in private."
Michael Phelps' remaining schedule at the swimming world championships:
Today 100 butterfly final Tomorrow 400 IM semifinals and final, 400 medley relay
Michael Phelps of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club set two world records yesterday at the world championships in Barcelona, Spain. He has set four world records this week, and it marks the 10th time he has broken a world mark.
Event Time Date
200 butterfly 1:54.92 3/30/01
200 butterfly 1:54.58 7/24/01
400 IM 4:11.09 8/15/02
400 med. relay* 3:33.48 8/29/02
400 IM 4:10.73 4/6/03
200 IM 1:57.84 6/29/03
200 butterfly 1:53.93 7/22/03
200 IM 1:57.52 7/24/03
100 butterfly :51.47 7/25/03
200 IM 1:56.04 7/25/03
*Phelps' split of 51.13 was the fastest in history.
Phelps crams a lot of history into a few minutes
Michael Phelps yesterday became the first man to have world-record swims in different individual events on the same day, and he did it in a 49-minute window, with 46 minutes' rest between the two races. A look (all times local to Barcelona):
6:49 p.m.: Ukraine's Andrii Serdinov lowers world record in first semifinal of 100-meter butterfly to 51.76.
6:54 p.m.: The second semifinal begins, with Phelps in Lane 4.
6:55 p.m.: Phelps lowers the record to 51.47.
6:57 p.m.: Exits competition pool. On walk to practice pool, Phelps begins replenishing his system with two bottles of Gatorade and an energy bar.
7:16 p.m.: After keeping loose with approximately 16 minutes of medley swimming, Phelps climbs out of the practice pool.
7:17 p.m.: A blood sample is taken from Phelps' left ear, to sample the lactic acid in his system.
7:18 p.m.: Phelps lays face down on a massage board, where two massage therapists knead and rub his muscles. After one minute, he flips over to his back, and is massaged for another 90 seconds.
7:21 p.m.: Phelps leaves the practice pool.
7:23 p.m.: Phelps enters the "call" room, where swimmers are corraled before races. He changes from trunks to jammers, a suit that covers his thighs.
7:41 p.m.: The 200 individual medley begins.
7:43 p.m.: Phelps lowers his own world record to 1:56.04.