Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Olympic Aquatic Centre, Athens Olympic Sports Complex Spiros Loues, Athina
Date Started: August 19, 2004
Date Finished: August 20, 2004
The results of the previous 18 months of competition suggested the Olympic title would be contested between two Americans, [Ian Crocker] and [Michael Phelps]. Crocker was the World Champion and had set a new world record in the process of beating Phelps at the US Olympic Trials in July but had suffered an illness in the week before competition began in Athens and had crashed out in the heats of the 100 metres freestyle. In contrast Phelps had already won four gold medals in Athens including the 200 metres butterfly.
In a final that lived up to pre-Olympic expectation, Crocker appeared to have to returned to his record breaking and scorched out into the lead with a halfway split time well under the existing world record. Phelps responded in the second half of the race but probably would have been destined to finish behind Crocker had the World Champion not made a miscalculation at the finish which allowed Phelps to touch first by four hundredths of a second.