RIO DE JANEIRO — The greatest Olympian ever added another gold to his collection Sunday.
Michael Phelps’ staggering split in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay helped lead the American men to their first swimming gold of the Rio Games at Olympic Aquatics Stadium. It was Phelps’ 23rd medal, and 19th gold, in an unparalleled career.
Swimming the second leg, Phelps teamed with Caeleb Dressel, Ryan Held and anchor Nathan Adrian to finish with a time of 3:09:92. The Americans were widely considered underdogs to favorite Australia but ended up leading nearly the entire race and closed strong on the strength of Adrian. France outpaced Australia as well to win silver with a time of 3:10:53. The Aussies rounded out the top three at 3:11:37.
Phelps made his debut in the 2000 Olympics at the ripe young age of 15. He didn’t medal, but he did make the finals in the 200-meter butterfly and finished fifth. Since then, he’s been an Olympic force of nature. He captured a pair of bronze medals at the 2004 Athens Games alongside six gold medals. Phelps won a record eight gold medals in 2008, followed with four golds and two silvers at the 2012 London Games. He came out of retirement to swim once again in Rio.
While the 31-year-old Phelps has not completely ruled out competing in 2020, this is likely his final Olympics, and he has at least three more opportunities to go out in his typically gilded style. Phelps will swim the 200-meter individual medley, the 100- and 200-meter butterfly, and is expected to take the fly leg in the 4×100-meter medley on Saturday, swimming’s final night of competition.