For anyone who had a doubt that Michael Phelps could become the most decorated Olympian of all time, those doubts were silenced today. In the last lap of his 200-freestyle relay, Phelps opened up a lead that is only fitting of a champion. Once he touched the wall, he instantly became an Olympic Icon.
Michael Phelps was chosen to swim the anchor portion of the freestyle relay for a reason. It’s because when he’s in the zone, there is no catching him. He was definitely in his zone today, swimming to help Team USA gain another gold medal.
Phelps began the night with 17 medals, as earlier in the day he won silver for the 200-meter butterfly and then gold for the 4×200 race. The 4×200 gold was the 15th of his Olympic career, but the 19th medal he has earned overall.
He is now officially in a class all by himself, breaking a tie he once held with Russian gymnast Larissa Latynina as the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time.
The crowd in the London Aquatics Centre was electric and gave a thunderous applause for Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer and Ricky Berens as they entered the pool area. Phelps pulled each of his teammates aside before the race began and thanked them for being such a huge part of this amazing moment in his career.
He then asked them for one parting gift: a big lead.
The race was a nail-biter, but Lochte, Dwyer and Berens gave Phelps the big lead he had requested. Ryan Lochte got the Americans off to a great start, swimming as the lead-off for Team USA. Lochte normally swims the anchor position of the relay, but did an amazing job in his new position, outpacing the French by 1.55 seconds in the first 200 meters.
When Michael Phelps dove into the pool, he never looked back. He swam to a lead within the first 150 meters and the French could never close that lead. Phelps touched the wall for the last time with a nearly full 10-meter lead on the second place swimmer.
After looking up at the video board, Phelps smiled and began celebrating yet another victory with his teammates. The fans inside the Aquatics Centre immediately erupted into cheers and elation, all the while bearing witness to Olympic history in the making.