RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Now to Beijing and to the Olympic swimming pool. It's now six down and two to go for America's Michael Phelps. The 23-year-old from Baltimore broke his own world record this morning in winning the 200-meter individual medley, as NPR's Howard Berkes reports.
HOWARD BERKES: Three times this morning, three Americans stood on the gold medal stand.
Unidentified Man: The winner of the gold medal and Olympic champion (unintelligible).
BERKES: Rebecca Soni's name was drowned out by cheers. She won the first race of the day, the 100-meter breaststroke. The second was the 200-meter backstroke.
Unidentified Man: Representing the United States of America, Brian Lochte.
(Soundbite of cheering)
BERKES: Brian Lochte set a new world record and then dove back into the pool for the 200-meter individual medley - but he was up against this guy.
Unidentified Announcer: Michael Phelps.
(Soundbite of applause)
BERKES: For the sixth time at these games, Phelps stood with a gold medal around his neck, a big lug of a guy with a big smile, big ears and big feet.
He has two more chances for the same scene. First it's 100 meters of his best stroke, the butterfly, but it's a short race, so Phelps can't afford to start behind, like he did in preliminary heats.
Mr. MICHAEL PHELPS (Olympic Swimming Champion): You know, when I allow them to get to open water, it just - it makes it harder for me to get through the waves. So I just try and close the gap.
BERKES: Phelps also needs to perform despite 15 heats, semifinals and finals in the last six days.
Mr. PHELPS: I have to conserve as much physical and emotional energy as I can, and I'm just going to try and rest and recover as much as I can and prepare myself for those races.
BERKES: Winning one race ties the record for most gold medals in a single Olympics. Winning two makes history.
(Soundbite of cheering)
BERKES: After receiving his medal today, the poolside paparazzi tried to get Phelps to pose with the gold, and he did, holding it up to his cheek and smiling the smile of a winner. Howard Berkes, NPR News, Beijing.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.