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The U.S. men's swimming team has won the 4x200m freestyle relay, in a race that also gave Michael Phelps a record 19 medals in the Olympics. He netted his 18th, a silver, earlier in the day.
Update at 4:05 p.m. EDT: For the relay final, the American team swam in the fourth lane, next to their greatest rivals, the French, who posted the fasted qualifying time. The French are led by Yannick Agnel, who soundly defeated Ryan Lochte and others in the men's 200m freestyle Monday.
Perhaps spurred on by that defeat, Lochte sprang out to a lead, swimming the first 50 meters in 51.17, fastest among starters. He maintained that edge for the first 100 meters and turned over a one-second lead to Conor Dwyer, with Germany, Australia, and France trailing. Dwyer preserved the lead before giving way to Ricky Berens.
By that time, France was surging, along with China. But anchoring the race was Phelps, who was denied a victory earlier by what looked like an irresolute approach to the wall. But he would not be denied this time, as the U.S. team finished with a dominating 6:59.70 time — beating the field by at least three seconds.
France took the silver medal at 7:02.77, and China the bronze at 7:06.30.
Our original post continues:
Michael Phelps has won a silver medal in the 200m butterfly at the London 2012 Olympics, coming in second to Chad Le Clos of South Africa. Phelps was timed at 1:53.01 to Le Clos' 1:52.96. The silver brings Phelps' total to 18 Olympics medals, tying the record held by gymnast Larisa Latynina.
Phelps led the race's first 100 meters, then faded a bit in the final leg. American Tyler Clary took fifth place, with a time of 1:55.06.
His race came just after the women's 200m freestyle final, in which American Allison Schmitt won a gold medal. In that event, Missy Franklin took fourth place, with a time of 1:55.82 — a single one-hundredth of a second behind Australia's Bronte Barratt, at 1:55.81.
Schmitt, 22, set a new Olympic record with her time of 1:53.61. It is the first gold medal for the Pittsburgh, Pa., native. Camille Muffatt of France won the silver medal.
For Phelps, the silver medal in the 200m butterfly ended a chance for an unprecedented "three-peat" gold medal performance by a swimmer in the same Olympic event.
Update at 3:28 p.m. EDT: Phelps has a chance to break Latynina's record later today, when he swims in the 4x200m freestyle relay.
Latynina, 77, was poolside to watch the men's 200m butterfly race. Latynina has said that she's resigned to lose her most-medals title to Phelps. But when asked by a Yahoo Sports reporter Tuesday about her feelings, here's what she said:
"Do I think I am still the greatest Olympian?" she said in an interview with Yahoo! Sports translated by a Russian gymnastics federation official. "Why yes, but that is my opinion."