For the last four years, the memory had haunted him, the number 50.40 had tormented him as it was the race where Michael Phelps was handed the worst defeat of his career.
But since July 9th, the swimming prodigy can finally smile after erasing that painful scar for ever.
Michael Phelps broke the world record for the 100m butterfly race at the U.S. National Championships and in doing so, regained the very record that was once his own.
2005 was the year which remained etched in Phelps’s memory as he was beaten heavily by compatriot Ian Crocker who swam away to glory in a record 50.40 seconds.
And since then it had been a journey of unwavering determination for the eight-time Beijing Olympic gold-medallist who had never learned to lose.
Four years later, Michael Phelps’s dream finally came true inside the Indiana University Natatorium as he astounded everyone after touching the wall in a mind-boggling 50.22 seconds.
‘’This is something that I really, really wanted to accomplish,’’ Phelps said.
‘’Crock and I had a lot of great history, and a lot of great races with one another. I‘ve wanted that record ever since he took it in ’03 worlds….After the race, you could tell I was pretty fired up and excited.’’
True it was that the American was really eager and the anxiousness was very much obvious as an excited Phelps, on finishing, immediately took off his goggles, swim caps and glared at the scoreboard.
It took a long 15 seconds for him to fathom the truth as he broke into a smile after eventually realizing his dream.
In 2003 at the World Championships in Barcelona, Phelps had grabbed the 100m butterfly record for the first time with a timing of 51.47 seconds.
But even before he could savour his success, Ian Crocker smashed his record the very next night with an incredible 50.98 seconds.
But the worst was yet to come.
Two years later at the 2005 World Championships in Montreal, Crocker humiliated Phelps by a margin of 1.25 seconds as he swam to an unprecedented 50.40 seconds and broke his own world record.
Phelps now holds five individual world records: the 100m butterfly, the 200m butterfly, the 200m freestyle, the 200m individual medley and the 400m individual medley.
He has qualified for the World Championships later this month in the 100m and 200m butterfly and the 200m freestyle.
It’s likely that the gifted swimmer will also swim on three relays at the elite swimming event in Rome, beginning July 26th.