The 15-year-old clocked 3min 39.82sec to beat the previous mark of 3:40.46 set by New Zealand's Danyon Loader at a meeting in the World Cup short- course (25m pool) series in Sheffield in February 1995. Grant Hackett, the reigning 1500m world champion, also went under the old mark with a time of 3:40.04 but was touched out by Thorpe.
"For the first 200 metres, we were mucking around a little bit," Thorpe said. "I think we were waiting for each other to make a move."
Thorpe also claimed a share of a longcourse (50m pool) world record at the Commonwealth Games in Malaysia earlier this month as part of the Australia 4x200m freestyle relay team but this was his first individual world record.
The Sydney schoolboy was the youngest ever Australian to make a national swimming team when he went to the Pan Pacific championships in Japan, then became the youngest ever world champion when he won the 400m at the Perth world championships in January.
He won four gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur and also set the second-fastest times in history for both the 200m and 400m individual freestyle events.
Thorpe's performance came just 24 hours after Matthew Dunn, another member of the Australia 4x200m relay team, set a world record of 4:04.24 for the 400m individual medley. Dunn, 25, beat the previous mark of 4:05.41 set by Dutchman Marcel Wouda in Paris last year.
Thorpe said the Australia team was still on a high after dominating the swimming events in Malaysia, winning 23 of the 32 gold medals.Reuse content