Overcoming migraine and stomach pains, the 17-year-old Ian Thorpe set his third world record in three days yesterday, improving his own 200 metres freestyle mark for the second time in 24 hours.
Thorpe continued his run of record-breaking at the Australian national championships and Olympic selection trials, clocking 1min 45.51sec to improve by 0.18sec the record he set in the semi-finals on Sunday.
Thorpe opened the championships at the Sydney Aquatic Centre, the venue for the Olympics, by shaving a half-second off the 400m freestyle record. After breaking the 200m record twice on consecutive days, Thorpe took his career tally to 10 world records.
"I felt quite ill," he said. "I didn't feel too good before the race, in the race or afterwards - I was feeling terrible."
Thorpe has now improved the 200m freestyle record four times in his last two major championships
Australia's head coach, Don Talbot, who has always been reluctant to praise his swimmers, said: "He's an astonishing boy. I just go to bed every night and say: 'Please God, let him get to the Olympics OK'."
Thorpe walked out on to the pool deck yesterday draped in an overcoat emblazoned with his nickname "Thorpedo" and looking more like a prize fighter than a champion swimmer but when he dropped the coat he revealed the sleek black, full-length bodysuit which created a stir before the trials and has carried him to all three records.
Of the eight finalists in the 400m freestyle, seven were wearing some form of the controversial "long john" swimsuits, which are designed to improve performance by compressing a swimmer's muscles.
"There's this perception that the suits make you go a lot faster - I don't really think so," he said. However, he thought the suits helped him get higher in the water. "I think it helps a little bit," he added. "I felt high in body position. It might be mental. I don't know."
At 17, Thorpe is already his country's leading swimmer, but Australia's women might soon provide a rival. Leisel Jones, 14, became the youngest Australian in 24 years to make the Olympic team when she won the 100m breaststroke final in 1min 08.71sec.Reuse content