Michael Phelps entered the day sitting on 17 total medals, just one shy of tying the record of 18 set by Larisa Latynina of the then Soviet Union. Phelps was able to tie the record with a silver medal in the Men's 200m fly, just narrowly missing out on gold, before breaking the record by anchoring Team USA's gold-medal performance in the Men's 4x200m relay.
Phelps didn't sound disappointed with his performance in the 2012 Games, which included a disappointing fourth-place finish in the 400m individual medley earlier in the week, despite failing to meet lofty expectations.
It wasn't just Phelps for the Americans making a splash. His training partner, 22-year-old Allison Schmitt, took home her third medal of the 2012 Olympics thus far, picking up the gold in the Women's 200m Freestyle. In Beijing in 2008, Schmitt picked up a silver and a bronze medal and has now brought her Olympic total to five medals in just two Olympic appearances.
In the same 200m Freestyle in which Schmitt won gold, 17-year-old Missy Franklin just missed on winning bronze and her third medal of her very first Olympic appearance. Franklin finished just 0.01 seconds behind Australian swimmer Bronte Barratt.
American Caitlin Leverenz also medaled for the United States on Tuesday, winning the bronze medal in the Women's 200m Individual Medley. Leverenz took home her first career medal in her first Olympics, after just barely missing out in qualifying for the 2008 Beijing games by finishing third and twice in fourth place at the U.S. Trials.
Michael Phelps will swim the anchor leg for the United States in Tuesday's 4x200m freestyle relay, scheduled to start at 3:51 p.m. ET. Team USA will lead off with Ryan Lochte, followed by Conor Dwyer, then Ricky Berens, and then finally, Phelps.
The swim could be a historic one for Phelps -- if he medals in the 200m fly at 2:49 p.m. ET (his signature event), a medal in the relay would give him 19 total for his career, making him the most decorated athlete in the history of the Olympics. Just one medal on Tuesday would equal the record currently held by former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina.
The 4x200m free relay comes just two days after the U.S. finished second to France in the 4x100m free relay, a race in which Phelps swam from the second position while Lochte had the anchor leg. n that race, Phelps turned in the fasteset split for the American team while Lochte was passed by France's Yannick Agnel.
Michael Phelps had a short day in the 2012 Olympic pool on Monday, merely qualifying for the men's 200m butterfly title. On Tuesday, Phelps will defend his gold medal in the final of the event, and go for a bit more Olympic history.
Phelps has a chance to become the first men's swimmer to win an event in three consecutive Olympics in the 200m butterfly, one of the few new feats available for the most acclaimed swimmer in Olympic history. Phelps has already come up short in one attempt at the milestone, placing fourth in the 400m IM, but Japan's Kosuke Kitajima failed to beat Phelps to the record by not winning the 100m breaststroke.
Phelps' final is the second of four finals in London on Tuesday, but, as with all major events at the 2012 Olympics, they will not be shown on American TV until NBC's primetime coverage, which begins Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET. The live Olympics swimming stream is available via NBC Live Extra. Here's the schedule for Tuesday's four medal finals.
2:41 p.m. - Women's 200m Freestyle
2:49 p.m. - Men's 200m Butterfly
3:43 p.m. - Women's 200m IM
3:51 p.m. - Men's 4x200m Free Relay
Phelps' run at the historic triple won't be his only chance at history on Tuesday — with wins in that event and the 4x200 relay, he could tie and pass Larisa Latynina's overall Olympic record of 18 medals before his time in the pool is through.
Americans could medal in the two women's events of the day, as well, as Missy Franklin and Allison Schmitt could add more medals to their London tallies in the 200m freestyle, and Ariana Kukors and Caitlin Leverenz should be competitors in a deep women's 200 IM field that includes China's record-breaking Shiwen Ye.