Rio de Janeiro: Michael Phelps sat alone, thoroughly exhausted. He put his head in his hands and then
motioned at his neck as though he had nothing left to give.
His work was done.
He had his 20th and 21st gold medals.
Phelps made up for one of the rare losses in his brilliant career by winning the 200-meter butterfly Tuesday night, a triumph that sent him climbing into the stands to kiss his 3-month-old son Boomer.
An hour later, he returned to take what amounted to nothing more than a triumphant victory lap in anchoring the 4x200 freestyle relay, the crowd's deafening roar growing louder with every stroke.
This was another performance for the ages, but Phelps has done it so many times that nothing else would have been fitting.
It came on a night that American teammate Katie Ledecky picked up her second gold of the Rio Olympics on the way to what could be a historic run of her own in the pool.
Phelps now has 25 medals in all, and three more races in Rio to add to his almost unimaginable total. The 200 fly was the one he really wanted, and it showed.