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American swimmers make history with men, women relay gold

Jacksonville's Ryan Murphy swims in Michael Phelps' final Olympics event

Nathan Adrian, Michael Phelps, Ryan Murphy and Cody Miller display their gold medals. (AP photo by Julio Cortez)
Nathan Adrian, Michael Phelps, Ryan Murphy and Cody Miller display their gold medals. (AP photo by Julio Cortez) (Associated Press)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, won his 23rd gold medal on Saturday night in the 4x100-meter medley relay, teaming with Jacksonville's own Ryan Murphy, along with Cody Miller and Nathan Adrian.

The American men rraced to an Olympic record time of  3:27.95. Great Britain won silver and Australia the bronze.

The men's victory race came minutes after the 4x100 medley relay by the U.S. team of Kathleen Baker, Lilly King, Dana Vollmer and Simone Manuel, who won the gold with a time of 3:53.13. 

Phelps has won a medal for his participation on this relay every Olympic Games since 2004. The women's relay gave America the 1,000th Olympic gold medal in Summer Games history -- by far the most of any nation.

"It truly is an honor," Phelps, 31, said.

Murphy set a world record swimming the backstroke in his lead-off leg of the relay. This was his third gold at the Rio Olympics.

It was the latest success of swimmers with ties to Jacksonville and the program at The Bolles School, where Murphy graduated in 2013.

Bolles' 2014 graduate Joseph Schooling, swimming for Singapore, out-dueled Phelps in the 100-meter butterfly Friday night to claim the gold.

Caeleb Dressel, who swam with the Bolles club program but attended Clay High School, won gold Sunday swimming with Phelps in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay. He also swam one of the preliminary heats qualifying the men for the 4x100 medal race, which technically qualified him for a second gold medal.

The head swim coach at Bolles is in Minneapolis with swimmers from the school attending the Junior Nationals, but that hasn’t stopped him or the team from making sure to be in front of the TV to watch the best the sport has to offer, including Murphy.

“A lot of the kids know him or remember him and recognize it,” Bolles' head swim coach Jon Sakovich said. “They're very excited and inspired and want to go on and do great things, want to work hard. It's definitely a boost for us.”

Early in his high school career, Sakovich could tell Murphy was going to be an elite swimmer, but even four years ago when he finished fourth in Olympic trials, he never would have guessed Murphy would now be the best backstroker in the world.

“In the grand scheme of things, he did what he needed to do. He was a hard worker, he was dedicated to the sport, he was dedicated to his events. You really couldn't ask too much more out of him,” Sakovich said

For Murphy, age 21, it was a very impressive performance in his first Olympics. Sakovich said success like this can have a long-lasting effect.

“This is great for Bolles. It's great for Jacksonville, and for swimming in general. Americans have done excellent at these games. I know there were a lot of questions coming in, but to see the U.S. dominate the sport of swimming again, it's great," Sakovich said. “Hopefully, it will get more kids into the sport. Maybe then we'll see more future Ryan Murphys and Michael Phelps down the road.”

Murphy’s father, Pat, said earlier in the week that once the Olympics are over, Ryan's attention will turn back to his college career at Cal Berkley. Once that ends, the focus becomes the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.