Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer and Townley Haas aided the U.S. quartet’s victory in the 4x200m freestyle, adding a fourth consecutive gold medal for the U.S. in the event at the Olympics on Tuesday. Phelps has been on every one of those relays: 2004, 2008, 2012 and now 2016. Their time of seven minutes, 0.66 seconds beat out Great Britain, the 2015 world champions, by two and a half seconds.
The night was full of drama. About an hour earlier, Phelps raced to his 14th individual Olympic gold in the 200m butterfly. And right before he stepped on the blocks to anchor the relay, he split his dome cap as he was trying to put it on. He raced with what appeared to be an inside-out cap instead, borrowed from Dwyer.
Japan’s squad claimed the bronze with a time of 7:03.50.
The race marked just the second time Lochte has been in the pool for the United States throughout Rio. He anchored a team made up of three other first-time Olympians – Clark Smith, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz – in the qualifying heats. The rookies are also eligible to collect the same gold medal that the nighttime squad won.
Lochte’s program was paired down after the U.S. Trials in June, where he qualified to only swim the relay and the 200m individual medley, which begins Wednesday.
"Since 2004 when we first won it, we just had to keep the tradition alive and everyone did their part but we couldn’t have done it without those three other guys this morning to really get us going and get us a good lane for tonight," Lochte, who became the second most-decorated Olympic swimmer of all time with the relay win, said to media. "So we owe it to them and you know, we wanted to defend that title and that’s we did. So when it comes down to it, USA, we know how to race."