Swimming: Gentleman of the Pool

The record cache eluded him. But Michael Phelps left no doubt that he is now the sultan of swim

It was an irresistible formula for concocting the most popular Olympic event of the opening week. Start with an unroofed pool venue, which became a boisterous, giant tanning bed during the scorching morning races, add in the lure of an athlete who might be undone by hubris, and you have an Olympic experience that is hard to match.

Michael Phelps did not win the prize the world was watching for--capturing the most gold medals in a single Games--but he did achieve an Olympian feat nonetheless, matching the most medals, eight, earned at an Olympics. Pulled along in his powerful wake,...

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