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Magnussen Draws Phelps Praise & Gaze

Jul 25, 2011  - Craig Lord

Michael Phelps paid plaudits to Australia's young sprint gun James Magnussen the morning after the 20-year-old had clocked the fastest ever 100m freestyle by a swimmer in a textile suit: 47.49 leading Australia off to the best ever 4x100m free combination in textile - 3:11.00 for gold.

Phelps on 48.08 opposite the Australian in the relay, described Magnussen an "exciting" new force in world waters. "I saw the split, he split that 100 pretty good. I think he was back in about 24.3 (seconds) coming home, so that's really good," Phelps said. "He's talented, young. I think it's going to make it exciting for the sport. Definitely adds something else to that relay, that's for sure."

The splits: 23.10; 47.49 - back in 24.39. The best in the world before that was Pieter Van Den Hoogenband (NED), the 2000 and 2004 Olympic champion, who when setting the world record at Sydney 2000 went 23.16; 47.84 - back in 24.68. There has never been a swimmer capable of such back end speed as that cranked out of by Magnussen, coached by Brant Best in Sydney.

Best describes Magnussen as "a very talented young man with a bright future". Much focus and attention has been put into the teenager's ability to maintain pace throughout races, that translates to a lethal return over 100m.

When asked about the nature of winners in the 100m free on the biggest of occasions, Bob Bowman, mentor to Michael Phelps, told SwimNews recently that he favoured the scenario whereby the champion came from the crew of those who could come back the hardest. 

Magnussen shrugged off the pressure of great expectation thus: "This was my first race against Michael Phelps. I was pretty sure he would be swimming first so I was well prepared for that. I was in lane two and I couldn't really see him, and I was breathing the other way on the way home so I was pretty much swimming my own race. And my goggles fogged up so much I couldn't see much anyway."

Olympic silver medallist in the 100m for Australia at Beijing 2008, Eamon Sullivan chipped in: "We've been working towards this sort of achievement for a while. We knew we weren't going to be in the mix on paper but we knew the work we'd been doing and the talent and the depth we've had over the last year, we definitely had the experience and youth to really surprise people. I think we paced ourselves really well and really had a good race structure."