Phelps Off to Quick Start with Record Swim

Wins 400-meter individual medley preliminary
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 9, 2008 8:00 AM CDT
Michael Phelps of the US, second from right, warms up on the starting block for the men's 400-meter individual medley heat in Beijing Saturday, Aug. 9, 2008.    (AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle)
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(Newser) – Michael Phelps has set a new Olympic record before the race for medals has even begun, the Washington Post reports. The American swam the 400-meter individual medley preliminary in 4 minutes, 7.82 seconds. “I'm happy to get the first-race jitters sort of out," the swimmer said. "The first race is probably one of the most important ones, to get it out of your system."

Phelps already holds the world record in the race, 4:05.25. He first set it at age 17 in 2002 and has knocked it lower six times since then. But dominating this race could still be the biggest individual challenge in Phelps' quest to garner a record eight gold medals, the Post says—he’ll have to watch out for Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh, who swam 4:09.26 today, as well as American Ryan Lochte.