Sweet 19!

With Michael Phelps swimming the anchor leg, the United States won gold in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay. France won silver with China taking bronze. This is the 19th medal of Phelps' career, making him the most decorated Olympian of all time.

"I started smiling with about 20 meters to go," Phelps said after the win, via Nicole Auerback of USA Today. "That's the first time I've ever done that."

Handed a sizable lead for the anchor of the 4x200, Phelps had the luxury of enjoying the trip. Coming off disappointing results in the 4x100-meter relay and the 200-meter freestyle, Ryan Lochte delivered a powerful performance in the first leg, handing Conor Dwyer a lead. Although the gap was closed on Dwyer, he built it back up before Ricky Berens hit the water. The lead continued to grow and Phelps never let the competitors get close.

STORY CONTINUES BELOW

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  • Michael Phelps

    United States' Michael Phelps poses with his gold medal for the men's 4x200-meter freestyle relay swimming final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Tuesday, July 31, 2012.

  • Michael Phelps

    United States' Michael Phelps, left, Ricky Berens, second left, Ryan Lochte, center, and Conor Dwyer celebrate their gold medal win in the men's 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Tuesday, July 31, 2012.

  • Michael Phelps

    United States' Conor Dwyer, left, Michael Phelps, center, Ryan Lochte, second right, and Ricky Berens, right, pose with their gold medals after their win in the men's 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Tuesday, July 31, 2012.

  • Michael Phelps

    United States' Conor Dwyer, second from left, United States' Ryan Lochte, third from let, United States' Ricky Berens, fourth from left, and United States' Michael Phelps react as they win gold in the men's 4x200-meter freestyle relay swimming final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Tuesday, July 31, 2012.

  • Michael Phelps

    United States' Michael Phelps, left, and France's Yannick Agnel speak after the men's 4 x 200-meter freestyle Relay swimming final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Tuesday, July 31, 2012. The United States won gold, France silver.

  • Michael Phelps

    United States' Michael Phelps, right, celebrates winning gold in the men's 4x200-meter freestyle relay swimming final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Tuesday, July 31, 2012.

  • Michael Phelps

    United States men's relay team members Conor Dwyer, left, Ryan Lochte, center, Ricky Berens, right, and Michael Phelps, bottom, celebrate their gold medal win in the men's 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Tuesday, July 31, 2012.

  • Michael Phelps

    The United States team celebrate as teammate Michael Phelps touches to win the gold in the Men's 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay final on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 31, 2012 in London, England.

  • Michael Phelps

    US' Michael Phelps dives during the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 31, 2012 in London.

  • Michael Phelps

    US' Michael Phelps dives during the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 31, 2012 in London.

  • Michael Phelps

    US' Michael Phelps competes in the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 31, 2012 in London.

  • Michael Phelps

    Conor Dwyer, Ryan Lochte and Ricky Berens of the United States celebrate as teammate Michael Phelps touches to win the gold in the Men's 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay final on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 31, 2012 in London, England.

  • Michael Phelps

    US swimmer Michael Phelps walks on the podium after winning silver in the men's 200m butterfly final during the swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 31, 2012 in London.

  • Michael Phelps

    US swimmer Michael Phelps poses on the podium after winning silver in the men's 200m butterfly final during the swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 31, 2012 in London.

  • Michael Phelps

    US swimmer Michael Phelps stands on the podium after winning a silver medal in the men's 200m butterfly final during the swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 31, 2012 in London.

  • Michael Phelps

    US swimmer Michael Phelps poses with his silver medal on the podium of the men's 200m butterfly final during the swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 31, 2012 in London.

  • Michael Phelps

    US swimmer Michael Phelps applauds as he poses with his silver medal on the podium of the men's 200m butterfly final during the swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 31, 2012 in London.

  • Olympics Day 4 - Swimming

    Silver medallist Michael Phelps of the United States waves to the crowd after receiving his silver medal for the Men's 200m Butterfly final on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 31, 2012 in London, England.

  • Michael Phelps

    US swimmer Michael Phelps poses with the silver medal on the podium of the men's 200m butterfly final during the swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 31, 2012 in London.

  • Michael Phelps

    US swimmer Michael Phelps (C) poses with the silver medal on the podium of the men's 200m butterfly final during the swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 31, 2012 in London.

  • Michael Phelps

    South Africa's Chad Le Clos (C) poses on the podium with the gold medal flanked by silver medalist (L) US swimmer Michael Phelps and bronze medalist (R) Japan's Takeshi Matsuda after winning the men's 200m butterfly final during the swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 31, 2012 in London.

  • Michael Phelps

    Silver medallist Michael Phelps of the United States, gold medallist Chad le Clos of South Africa and bronze medallist Takeshi Matsuda of Japan pose on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men's 200m Butterfly final on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 31, 2012 in London, England.

  • Michael Phelps

    Silver medalist US swimmer Michael Phelps leaves after the podium ceremony of the men's 200m butterfly final during the swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 31, 2012 in London.

  • Michael Phelps

    Debbie Phelps (L) the mother of Michael Phelps of the United States and his sisters Hilary Phelps (Bottom R) and Whitney Phelps (Top R) watch the evening session on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 31, 2012 in London, England.


"I thanked those guys for helping me get to this moment," said Phelps, admitting to reporters that the team had talked about the historical weight of the race. "I told those guys I wanted a big lead. I was like, 'You better give me a big lead going into the last lap,' and they gave it to me. I just wanted to hold on. I thanked them for being able to allow me to have this moment."

Approximately an hour after tying Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina for most Olympic medals ever with 18, Phelps was back in the water -- likely with a new swim cap. After his record-setting performance that new cap could very well end up in a museum. With his 19th overall medal (15 of them gold), Phelps moved ahead of Latynina, who won 18 medals across the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Summer Games.

Michael Phelps' Career Olympic Medal Haul

GAMESEVENTMEDAL
2004 AthensMen's 200 meters FreestyleBronze
2004 AthensMen's 4 × 100 meters Freestyle RelayBronze
2004 AthensMen's 4 × 200 meters Freestyle RelayGold
2004 AthensMen's 100 meters ButterflyGold**
2004 AthensMen's 200 meters ButterflyGold**
2004 AthensMen's 200 meters Individual MedleyGold**
2004 AthensMen's 400 meters Individual MedleyGold*
2004 AthensMen's 4 × 100 meters Medley RelayGold
2008 BeijingMen's 200 meters FreestyleGold*
2008 BeijingMen's 4 × 100 meters Freestyle RelayGold*
2008 BeijingMen's 4 × 200 meters Freestyle RelayGold*
2008 BeijingMen's 100 meters ButterflyGold**
2008 BeijingMen's 200 meters ButterflyGold*
2008 BeijingMen's 200 meters Individual MedleyGold*
2008 BeijingMen's 400 meters Individual MedleyGold*
2008 BeijingMen's 4 × 100 meters Medley RelayGold*
2012 LondonMen's 4 x 100 meters Freestyle RelaySilver
2012 LondonMen's 200 meters ButterflySilver
2012 LondonMen's 4 x 200 meters Freestyle RelayGold
2012 LondonMen's 200 meters Individual Medley FinalGold
2012 LondonMen's 100 meters Butterfly FinalGold
2012 LondonMen's 4x100 meters Medley RelayGold
*World Record/**Olympic Record
Information via Sports-Reference

*World Record
**Olympic Record
Information via Sports-Reference

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