Michael Phelps continued his gold rush Wednesday, winning two more gold medals and smashing two world records.
The wins – his 10th and 11th career golds – make him with winningest Olympian in history. As the announcer at the National Aquatics Center declared, that makes him “arguably the greatest Olympian of all time.” (The comment earned a smile from Phelps, who remained stoic for most of the day’s competition.)
The day began less than auspiciously, when Phelps’s goggles filled up with water during the 200-meter butterfly. The 23-year-old still won handily – in a world-record time of 1:52.03 – but he was visibly annoyed after he touched the wall.
“I couldn’t see anything for the last 100 [meters],” Phelps said afterward. “It just kept getting worse and worse through the race.”
Although he was disappointed in his time, Phelps begrudgingly admitted, “for the circumstances, I guess it’s not too bad.”
Actually, it got much better. Later in the day, Phelps led off the U.S. 800 freestyle relay. The team – which included Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens and Peter Vanderkaay – won gold in under 7 minutes, with a mark of 6:58.56. (That shattered the Americans’ previous world record by 3.63 seconds.)
“It’s everything I ever dreamed about,” Phelps said of winning his second relay gold in Beijing. “On the podium, I kept tearing [up] at it. I’m almost at a loss for words …. It’s the best thing having four American guys … swim all well together.”
The gold medals give Phelps his fourth and fifth wins in China – putting him more than halfway toward his historic quest of claiming eight victories in the Games. (American swimmer Mark Spitz holds the current record of seven gold medals in a single Summer Olympics.)
“From now on, it’s just a downward slope,” Phelps said. “The end is close. I love it! I’ve still got some left in the tank.”
• Reporting by CYNTHIA WANG
• In 2004, the swimmer talked about life after winning six Olympic gold medals.