LONDON – The final swim of Michael Phelps‘ incomparable career was a victory lap, a coronation and a mere formality.
Phelps’ butterfly leg in the 400-meter individual medley helped propel the United States to an emphatic victory and sent Phelps into retirement with his 22nd career Olympic medal – a staggering 18 of them gold. Both totals are records and it will take a long time before those totals are even challenged, much less broken.
Phelps was joined on the winning relay by backstroker Matt Grevers, breaststroker Brendan Hansenand freestyler Nathan Adrian. The U.S. has never lost an Olympic 400 medley relay, and this one was never in doubt after Phelps regained the lead on the third leg. The Americans won with a time of 3:29.35. Japan (3:31.26) took the silver medal and Australia (3:31.58). captured the bronze.
“I could probably sum it up in a couple of words and just say, ‘I did it.’ ” Phelps said of his career. “Through the ups and downs, I’ve still been able to do everything that I’ve ever wanted to accomplish. I’ve been able to do things nobody’s ever done and that’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”