History unfolded in 6 minutes and 59.70 seconds.
With a little help from three of his friends, Michael Phelps became the greatest Olympian of them all, winning his 19th career medal, breaking the standard set by legendary Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina.
No. 19 came in the men’s 800-meter freestyle relay and the color was gold. Phelps had the responsibility of swimming the anchor leg and the outcome was virtually assured as he had a 3.8-second lead when he hit the water.
The United States finished first by almost that same margin. France took the silver and China the bronze.
Swimming the first three legs of the relay were Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer and Ricky Berens.
Incredibly, Phelps has 15 gold medals, two silver and two bronze in his legendary Olympic career, which started in 2000.
One of the silver medals came earlier on Tuesday night at the Aquatics Centre when Phelps was edged in the 200 butterfly.
He praised the winner Chad le Clos of South Africa and then paid tribute to his relay teammates.
“The 200 fly didn’t go the way I wanted,” Phelps said. “I was on the other end of that finish four years ago.”