BEIJING - The US lead in the men's 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay today was almost comical. And that was when Michael Phelps finished his leadoff leg in 1 minute 43.31 seconds. Not only was Phelps more than two seconds ahead of his nearest competitor, but he also put the Americans well ahead of world-record pace.
Phelps earned his fifth gold medal and his fifth world record of the Beijing Games when the US won the race in 6:58.56, smashing the previous record by 4.68 seconds. The gold represented the 13th Olympic medal of Phelps's career, surpassing swimmer Jenny Thompson for the most won by an American athlete. Between Phelps and the team's record-setting effort, runner-up Russia was an afterthought, touching the wall more than five seconds back for the silver medal.
"It's everything I ever dreamed about," said Phelps, whose victory earlier in the day in the 200-meter butterfly earned him his 10th gold medal, the most ever by an Olympian.