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Phelps completes perfect Olympics

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USA's Michael Phelps raises his arms after receiving his 7th gold medal for the Men's 100M Butterfly final at the National Aquatic Center (Water Cube) during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, on August 16, 2008. Phelps is tied with Mark Spitz, the swimmer who set the record for 7 gold medals in a single Olympics in Munich, 1972. (UPI Photo/Roger L. Wollenberg) | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/4a86c5e4fffbf2401baa732558ff69de/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
USA's Michael Phelps raises his arms after receiving his 7th gold medal for the Men's 100M Butterfly final at the National Aquatic Center (Water Cube) during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, on August 16, 2008. Phelps is tied with Mark Spitz, the swimmer who set the record for 7 gold medals in a single Olympics in Munich, 1972. (UPI Photo/Roger L. Wollenberg) | License Photo

BEIJING, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Michael Phelps completed the most productive Olympics for any competitor in history Sunday, setting a record that should last for generations.

Phelps, as part of the triumphant American 400-meter medley relay team, won his eighth gold medal of the Beijing Games -- one more than the record U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz had held for 26 years.

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He was the third man on the relay, swimming the butterfly leg, and gave teammate Jason Lezak a lead of seventh-tenths of a second for the final 100 pressure-packed meters. Lezak was able to hold off Australia's Eamon Sullivan and give the United States its 12th Olympic medley relay gold medal in 12 tries.

Joining Phelps and Lezak on the team were backstroker Aaron Peirsol and breaststroker Brendan Hansen.

"The help from these guys made it possible," Phelps said. "It shows how much teamwork and togetherness count. It's been a great experience for me and something I'll have forever."

Not only did Phelps win eight times in Beijing, he extended the career Olympic gold medal record into the stratosphere. The record was nine when he arrived in China. As he leaves, it is 14.

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The other big story on the final night of swimming, 41-year-old American Dara Torres, was unable to win a gold. But she took a silver in the 50-meter freestyle behind Britta Steffen of Germany and another silver on the U.S. medley relay team behind Australia.

Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia opened the session by winning the 1,500-meter freestyle, preventing Grant Hackett of Australia from becoming the first swimmer in Olympic history to win three straight gold medals in the same event.

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