Michael Phelps won two gold medals on Tuesday, avenging his 200m butterfly defeat from the London Olympics and then anchoring the U.S. 4×200 freestyle team to victory on a night of high drama and emotion in the pool.
Katie Ledecky of the United States won her second gold medal of the meeting and Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu her third, extending their dominance of women’s swimming in feats that on any other day would have grabbed top billing.
Instead it was Phelps, the most successful Olympian of all time, who stole the limelight, extending his career medal tally to 25 by adding golds number 20 and 21.
In the 200 butterfly, he touched the wall in one minute, 53.36 seconds to beat Japan’s Masato Sakai by 0.04 seconds, with Hungary’s Tamas Kenderesi taking the bronze. Chad Le Clos of South Africa, Phelps’s conqueror four years ago, finished fourth.
Seventy-five minutes after racing, he was back in the water to swim the final leg of the 4×200 freestyle after Conor Dwyer, Townley Haas and Ryan Lochte had built a lead of 1.76 seconds.
The Americans touched in 7:00.66, with Britain second in 7:03.13 and Japan in third after James Guy overhauled Takeshi Matsuda on the final leg.
In the women’s races, Ledecky, 19, pipped Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom and Australia’s Emma McKeon to win the 200 freestyle, on top of her victory in the 400 on Sunday.
Hungary’s Hosszu, who despite five world titles had come away empty-handed from three previous Olympics, won her third gold medal with victory in the women’s 200 individual medley.
The 27-year-old, who set an Olympic record of 2:06.58, had already won the 400 individual medley on Saturday and 100 backstroke on Monday.
Hosszu, the ‘Iron Lady’ is entered in one more individual event, the 200 backstroke.
If she wins that she would equal the women’s record of four solo swimming golds at a single Games set by East Germany’s Kristin Otto in Seoul in 1988.