LONDON (AP) - Michael Phelps swam into history with his 19th Olympic medal, and this one was a more appropriate color.
With a lot of help from his friends, Phelps took down the last major record that wasn't his alone, swimming the anchor leg for the United States in a gold medal-winning performance of the 4x200-meter freestyle relay Tuesday night.
About an hour earlier, Phelps took one of the most frustrating defeats of his brilliant career, making a shocking blunder at the finish and settling for silver in his signature event, the 200 butterfly.
U.S. swimmers Conor Dwyer, Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Ricky Berens pose with their gold medals after winning the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final during at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 31, 2012.
That tied the record for career medals held by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, but it was hardly a triumphant moment. Phelps slung away his cap in disgust and struggled to force a smile at the medal ceremony.
But any disappointment from that race was gone by the time he dived in the water on the relay, having been staked to a huge lead by teammates Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer and Ricky Berens.
Before the race, they all huddled together, fully aware of their moment in history.
"I thanked those guys for helping me get to this moment," Phelps said. "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."
Berens handed off a lead of nearly 4 seconds to Phelps, who lingered a bit on the blocks, knowing the only way he could blow this one was to get disqualified. Then he set off on what amounted to four victory laps of the pool — down and back, then down and back again, the roar in the Olympic Aquatics Centre getting louder as he approached the finish.