| Ian Crocker of the US (bottom) with compatriot Michael Phelps after winning the 100m butterfly on Saturday. (AFP)
Barcelona: World records tumbled like ninepins at the world swimming championships here Sunday.
Michael Phelps set an unprecedented fifth world record to claim his third title with victory in the men’s 400m individual medley, surpassing Mark Spitz who set four world records on his way to seven golds at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
That was before Germany’s Thomas Rupprath set a new world record on his way to gold in the men’s 50m backstroke, and also before the US smashed their own world record in winning the men’s 4x100m medley relay final.
Phelps, bounced back from Saturday’s shock defeat in the 100 butterfly to race away with the 400 medley in four minutes 09.09 seconds. That sliced over 1.5 seconds from the 4:10.73 world mark he set in Indianapolis in April this year.
He was chased home by 17-year-old Laszlo Cseh of Hungary, the fastest man in the morning’s heats, who clocked 4:10.79 in the final, himself only 0.06 seconds outside Phelps’ old mark.
Phelps’ world records comprised one in the 200 butterfly, two in the 200 individual medley, one in the 100 butterfly before his shock defeat by fellow American Ian Crocker, and one in the 400 individual medley.
Distance king Grant Hackett won his third straight 1500m freestyle world title as Rupprath set the 50m world mark. Hackett becomes just the second person ever to win three consecutive world titles in the same event after being pipped as the first by Aussie teammate Ian Thorpe over 400m freestyle earlier in the competition.
Rupprath clocked 24.80 to break the previous mark of 24.99 set by American Lenny Krayzelburg in Sydney in August 1999.
That was the 11th world mark to fall in seven days of competition.
Defending champion Luo Xuejuan of China completed the breaststroke double when she added the 50m title to the 100m she won earlier in the championship.
The US team (comprising Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen, Ian Crocker and Jason Lezak) touched in three minutes 31.54 seconds to smash the old record of 3:33.48 set by their own country last September in Yokohama.