Michael Phelps

[SPOILER ALERT: The following story reveals the outcome of Tuesday's Olympic swimming finals.]

Michael Phelps stands alone.

The swimmer became the most decorated Olympian of all time when he earned his 19th medal — fittingly a gold — in the men's 4x200-meter freestyle relay final Tuesday at the London Olympics, breaking Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina's record of 18, which stood for 48 years.

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With the win, Phelps also extended his all-time Olympic gold medal record to 15.

The U.S., the two-time defending champion, torched the field in 6:59.70, beating France by three seconds. China was third, almost seven seconds behind the U.S., whose lineup also included Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer and Ricky Berens.

Phelps and Latynina were tied with 18 medals for a little over an hour after he claimed silver in the 200-meter butterfly earlier Tuesday behind South Africa's Chad Le Clos. The result was disappointing, as that is Phelps' signature event (he hadn't lost it in international competition since 2002) and he was seeking to become the first man to three-peat in a swimming event at the Olympics after missing the podium on Saturday in the 400-meter IM.

The relay win is also the first gold of these Games for Phelps. The U.S. claimed silver in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay Sunday after France's Yannick Agnel overtook Lochte in the final lap.

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Phelps will have three more chances to stretch his medal count later this week in the 200-meter IM, the 100-meter butterfly and the 4x100-meter medley relay — all races in which Phelps and the U.S. are the two-time defending champion.