RIO DE JANEIRO — Michael Phelps won his 19th Olympic gold medal as the United States won the 4x100 relay at the Olympics on Sunday. The Americans’ traditional rival in the event, France, was second, and Australia third.
The gold was Phelps’s 23rd medal: 19 golds, 2 silvers and 2 bronzes. The final time was 3:09.92.
Phelps swam the second leg for the Americans, taking over from Caeleb Dressel in second place behind France and swimming into the lead. His split time was a strong 47.12. Ryan Held and Nathan Adrian brought the U.S. home; Adrian’s split was an even better 46.97.
Usually the American 4x100 team is made up of the top finishers from the 100 free at the Olympic Trials. Phelps chose not to contest that event, but was put on the relay team anyway.
Phelps retired after the 2012 Games but decided to return in part because of disappointment with how the American men swam in the 4x100 relay at the 2013 world championships, losing to France.
The relay was the most unpredictable event of the night in swimming, with Australia, France, the United States and Russia all having claims to a gold medal. France and the United States split the last two Olympic gold medals, with Yannick Agnel of France outdueling Ryan Lochte in the anchor leg to win four years ago. Phelps was on both of those American teams.