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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Michael Phelps and Erik Vendt shattered the world record in the men's 400-meter individual medley Thursday, but only Phelps would enjoy the victory.
Phelps, of Baltimore, edged Vendt by less than two-tenths of a second, finishing in 4 minutes 11.09 seconds at the U.S. national swimming championships. Vendt's time was 4:11.27 seconds, still well-ahead of American Tom Dolan's former world mark of 4:11.76 in the event.
"With the unbelievable drive we both have, I knew it would come down to the end," Phelps said after his battle with Vendt. "I knew whoever touched the wall first would break the record. I love racing against him."
The only Alaska swimmer to see action on Thursday was Derek Gibb, a 1999 Petersburg High School graduate whose family now lives in Juneau. Gibb, a junior-to-be at Auburn University, finished 24th overall in the 100 free, eighth in the C final, with a time of 52.18. Gibb, who is competing for the Auburn Aquatics team, had a national meet qualifying time of 51.56 in the preliminaries, which seeded him in 20th place for the finals.
Jason Lezak, seeded fifth going into the finals, won the 100 freestyle in 49.19 seconds. It was the second title of the week for Lezak, of Irvine, Calif.
In the 400 IM, Phelps built an early lead on strong butterfly and backstroke legs, putting himself more than three seconds ahead of Vendt after 200 meters.
Vendt, of North Easton, Mass., battled back with a very strong breaststroke leg, catching Phelps at the 350-meter mark as the two touched in 3:43.40 and 3:43.54, respectively.
The two were in a similar scenario last month at the Janet Evans Invitational, but Vendt beat Phelps that time. On Thursday, Phelps caught him in the final 20 meters and used his 6-foot-4 frame to just out-touch the 5-10 Vendt.
"I knew whoever won, that race was going to go under the world record," Vendt said. "I was concentrating on trying to get the win. He's obviously the best swimmer in America right now."
Dolan, who set the former world mark at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and had held the record since 1994, was on hand to watch the race.
"It's not the greatest experience watching your world record get broken, but from my standpoint, that's what they're there for," Dolan said.
Also Thursday, Aaron Peirsol, of Irvine, Calif, won his second titles of the week. Peirsol held off Lenny Krayzelburg in the 200-meter backstroke to win his second backstroke event in 1:56.21, more than two seconds ahead of Krayzelburg's 1:58.92.
In women's finals, Natalie Coughlin of Concord, Calif., won her fourth national title of the week, taking the 100-meter freestyle with a time of 54.66 seconds, defeating Olympians Lindsay Benko and Jenny Thompson.
Another swimmer from Irvine, Amanda Beard, won the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:25.35.