Phelps reaches the end, so limitless and free

LONDON — This is the end, so limitless and free, Jim Morrison sang, and so it came on this Saturday night for Michael Phelps, the one and only, the greatest athlete in Olympic history.

In what he said repeatedly would be his last competitive swim, Phelps, 27, swam the butterfly leg of the men’s 4×100 medley relay for the U.S. team on the final night of the swim meet at the 2012 Olympic Games, the Americans winning in 3:29.35.

The victory gave Phelps his 22nd Olympic medal, his 18th gold. He finished these Games with six medals — four gold, two silver.

He became the first male swimmer to throw the Olympic three-peat, and did it in not just one event but two, the 200 IM and the 100 butterfly. The medley victory also made him the third person to win three golds in that event, along with Jason Lezak and Ian Crocker.

“I have been able,” he said late Saturday in emphasizing he truly is retiring from racing, “to do everything I wanted.”

Read the rest at NBCOlympics.com: http://bit.ly/PTGKLY

Michael Phelps and the Japanese and U.S. medley relay teams at the late-night news conference after the race. In front of Phelps is a special trophy presented him by swimming’s world governing body. The inscription reads: “To Michael Phelps/The greatest Olympic athlete of all time /From FINA/August 4 2012″

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