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Michael Phelps and Team USA take Olympics swimming gold in 4x100m relay

19th Olympic gold medal for University of Michigan's Phelps

Michael Phelps and the US men's 4x100m relay team celebrate winning gold at the Olympics. Photo/Getty Images
Michael Phelps and the US men's 4x100m relay team celebrate winning gold at the Olympics. Photo/Getty Images

Michael Phelps and the Team USA 4x100m relay team won Olympic gold Sunday night in Rio. 

Phelps, 31, swam second for the relay team, which held off the France for the gold, and rocketed his team to the lead in the second 50m leg. Phelps swam a 47.1-second split for the gold. 

"I wanted to try and do as much as I could going third to give them clear water," Phelps said in a TV interview after the race. 

Caleb Dressel started the race for the Americans, followed by Phelps, then Ryan Held, with Nathan Adrian in the anchor position. 

Russia took the bronze. 

Australia, a favorite, finished out the medals. 

The US men's team narrowly lost the 4x100m relay in the 2012 Olympics in London, something Phelps commented on after the race. 

"We wanted to bring that relay back to America ..." Phelps added on TV. "We're glad it's back on American soil." 

The relay win was Phelps' 19th Olympic gold medal and 23rd medal overall. 

In 2000, the Aussies won gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay on home soil. At the Athens Olympics in 2004, it was the South African squad that wore the olive branch crowns and gold medals. In 2008, the U.S. upset France by 0.08 seconds, but France got revenge and claimed gold in 2012.

It took the U.S. team, made up of Caeleb Dressel, Michael Phelps, Ryan Held and Nathan Adrian, three minutes, 9.92 seconds to win the 4x100m freestyle relay title at the Rio Olympics. It took setting a world record to win at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics.

At the Rio Olympics, the U.S. quartet got back on top of the podium, out-touching the team from France by about a second and a half. Phelps earned his 19th career Olympic gold medal with the victory.

Held was the only holdover from Sunday morning’s qualifying relay team. Adrian, the 2012 Olympic champ in the 100m freestyle, and Dressel, an Olympic rookie, will race in the heats of the 100m freestyle beginning Tuesday.

As participants on the preliminary heat relay team, Anthony Ervin, Blake Pieroni and Jimmy Feigen are also eligible for the gold medal.

France clocked 3:10.53 for the silver medal and Australia rounded out the podium with the bronze medals with a time of 3:11.37.

Rachel Lutz of NBC Universal contributed to this story.