Michael Phelps picked up his 19th gold medal on a second night of World records in the Olympic pool, with Katie Ledecky cruising to women’s 400 metres freestyle victory and Britain’s Adam Peaty running away with the men’s 100 breaststroke.
Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom extended Saturday’s record spree in winning the 100 butterfly, and Peaty and Ledecky followed suit in the next two finals before the U.S. men’s team, with Phelps swimming second, took the 4×100 freestyle relay.
Six swimming World records have now fallen in two days of competition, and the United States moved level with Australia on two golds each.
Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, now has 19 golds, two silvers and two bronze medals.
For his relay teammates Caeleb Dressel and Ryan Held, it was their first Olympic medal. London Olympics 100m freestyle champion Nathan Adrian swam the final leg for the Americans, touching first ahead of France and Australia.
“On the block I thought my heart was going to explode, I was so hyped, so excited,” said Phelps.
Ledecky, the rising U.S. swimming sensation, shaved 1.91 seconds off her own World record on the way to the 400m gold, the first stage of a rare treble she hopes to complete along with the 200m and 800m. “It’s pure happiness,” the 19-year-old told reporters. “I wanted the first 200 to hurt as little as possible and I really felt like I could build into it and really explode that last 50,” she added after leading the race from start to finish.
Britain’s Peaty set his second World record in consecutive days, and seemed surprised by the margin of his victory — 1.56 seconds — over defending champion Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa.
In the butterfly, Sjostrom became the first Swedish woman to win a gold, with Canada’s 16-year-old Penny Oleksiak taking silver. American Dana Vollmer, the 2012 champion, clinched bronze.
In a reminder of the doping controversies that dogged the build-up to the Olympics, there were loud boos for Russian breaststroker Yulia Efimova and the men’s relay team. — Reuters