BEIJING, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- American Michael Phelps took his place alongside some of the greatest names in athletic history Tuesday by winning the ninth gold medal of his Olympic career.
He overpowered the field in the 200-meter freestyle, won for the third time this week, broke his own world mark by almost a full second and collected one of the seven medals claimed by the United States during the fourth day of Olympic swimming.
Phelps is now tied in the Olympic record book with distance runner Paavo Nurmi of Finland, Soviet gymnastic star Larisa Latynina, American swimmer Mark Spitz and U.S. track star Carl Lewis for the most gold medals in the 112-year history of the Games.
Phelps is virtually certain to shatter the record before he leaves China, since he has five more final events to swim. It is becoming more likely by the day that he could break the single-Olympic gold medal record of seven that Spitz established in Munich 36 years ago.
The winning time for Phelps in the 200 freestyle was 1:42.96 and American Peter Vanderkaay grabbed a bronze medal in the event.
Coughlin won the 100 backstroke over Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe, with American Margaret Hoelzer finishing third. Peirsol rallied to capture the men's version of the same race in the world record time of 52.54, ahead of another American -- Matt Grevers.
It was the second straight Olympic gold in those events for both Coughlin and Peirsol.
Leisel Jones of Australia won the 100-meter breaststroke to finish the morning with American Rebecca Soni winning the silver.