The United States swimmers shattered their own 4X100 freestyle relay record again in the most intense race so far at the Beijing Games on Monday.
American quartet of Michael Phelps, Garrett Weber-Gale, Cullen Jones and Jason Lezak recorded 3:08.24, outtouching the French rivals by 0.08 seconds. Their record is 3.99 seconds faster than the previous one they set in Sunday's heats.
Australia took the bronze in 3:09.91.
Phelps led off the race placing second after Australian top sprinter Eamon Sullivan. But the French swimmers moved up in the water and locked themselves in a head-to-head battle with the American swimmers in the second and third leg. The cheers of about 17,000 spectators sent the bubble-shaped facility to shivers.
American last leg swimmer Lezak charged strongly in the final 50 meters to outstroke French anchor leg Alain Bernard.
Phelps, taking his second gold in Beijing, appeared to be overjoyed by the race. The Americans hugged each other in rapture, and lingered besides the pool, seemingly to recover from the ecstasy.
(Xinhua News Agency August 11, 2008)