Rome 2009, Day 4:
Men's 200m medley
Laszlo Cseh (HUN) is feeling better. Having arrived in Rome with a stomach bug and having been rushed to hospital to be rehydrated, the Hungarian triple Olympic silver medal winner withdrew from a showdown with Michael Phelps (USA) in the 200m butterfly. But this morning he went through to the semis of the 200m medley at the helm on 1:56.34. Three silvers shy of Phelpsian gold last year, the Hungarian is chasing his dream in a race that goes without "the alien" (as Hungarians called Phelps with tongue in cheek last year).
Behind Cseh, Eric Shanteau, on 1:57.65, Leith Brodie (AUS), inside Ian Thorpe's Australian record and his own personal best, by 1.5sec, on 1:57.66, Thiago Pereira (BRA) on 1:57.66, RYan Lochte (USA), on 1:57.94.
All 16 qualifiers got inside the 2-minute mark. By February 2008, the first sub-minute swimmer ever, the 1:59.36 of Tamas Darnyi (HUN) had slipped to 10th best all-time. In heats this morning, no fewer than 14 men swam faster than Darnyi did at his blistering best. Just two men managed to do that in 2007. This morning, Darnyi's best dropped out of the all-time top 25.
The Rome race was all a far cry from the dark ages of Melbourne 2007, where Phelps clocked 1:58.70 to go through first 0.08sec ahead of Cseh. Then, ony, six men got below 2 minutes. In Rome five got below 1:58.