“They split 10 minutes before I entered the pool and in that moment I knew the world record was gone. I lost my focus and knew I couldn’t do it,” Milak said Wednesday, according to the BBC.
Milak, 21, changed into a new pair of trunks and still won the event by almost 2.5 seconds. He set a new Olympic record of 1:51:25 in the process, shattering Michael Phelps’ time of 1:52:03 at the Beijing games in 2008.
But the wardrobe malfunction was a negative distraction, he said.
”It was a problem for me. I have a routine, a rhythm, a focus. This broke my focus and that problem impacted my time,” he explained. “I wasn’t swimming for the medal, I was swimming for the time,” he added. “I said earlier I wanted a personal best. And my personal best is a world record.”
Milak set his world record of 1:50:73 at the world championships in Gwangju, South Korea, in 2019. He shaved 0.78 seconds off Phelps’ time from the 2009 World Championships.
“As frustrated as I am to see that record go down, I couldn’t be happier to see how he did it,” Phelps said in tribute to Milak at the time. “That kid’s last 100m was incredible. He put together a great 200 fly from start to finish.”