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Phelps on course with third gold medal

  • Story Highlights
  • Phelps wins his third gold medal of the Beijing Games in the 200m freestyle
  • The 23-year-old American breaks his own world record by nearly one second
  • Phelps remains on course to win a record eight golds at the Beijing Olympics
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(CNN) -- American swimmer Michael Phelps remains on course for his target of eight Beijing gold medals after winning his third event of the Games, taking the men's 200-meter freestyle in a new world record time -- his third in a row.

Phelps is now just one victory away from holding the record for the most gold medals in Olympic history.

Phelps is now just one victory away from holding the record for the most gold medals in Olympic history.

The American's ninth career gold medal also ties him with Mark Spitz, Carl Lewis, Paavo Nurmi and Larysa Latynina for the most in Olympic history.

Racing out of lane six, Phelps quickly surged into the lead and led by a full body length halfway through the second of four lengths.

Phelps was nearly two seconds ahead of the field when he touched in one minute, 42.96 seconds, breaking the mark of 1:43.86 he set at last year's world championships.

South Korea's Park Tae-Hwan won the silver in an Asian record of 1:44.85 with American Peter Vanderkaay third in 1:45.14.

"That's great. I just wanted to be out on my own which I had done by the 100m mark, that was my goal," said Phelps.

"I was out in open water and I was in the middle, which makes it difficult for the other guys to see me. I knew Park would have a strong last 50 meters, so I had to keep my focus and concentration."

Phelps is now three from three in Beijing, keeping him on course to beat Spitz's 36-year-old record of seven golds in a single Olympics.

He will go for his fourth medal and 10th overall on Wednesday in the 200m butterfly, yet another event in which he holds the world record.

As a 19-year-old, Phelps won six golds in Athens, in the 100m and 200m butterfly, the 200m and 400m individual medley and the 4x200m free and 4x100m medley relays.

His haul in Athens also included two bronze medals -- in the 200m freestyle and 4x100m free relay.iReport.com: Show your Olympic spirit

Spitz won gold in the 100m and 200m freestyle, 100m and 200m butterfly and three relays in 1972 in Munich. Four years earlier he won gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay and the 4x200m free relay.

Nurmi and Lewis are Olympic athletics icons. Finland's Nurmi won his nine golds in the 1920s and American Lewis in the 1980s and 90s.

Soviet woman gymnast Latynina also won nine golds between 1956-1964

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Meanwhile Aaron Peirsol, won the men's 100 backstroke, defending his title with a world-record time and extending the United States' dominance of the event.

Peirsol finished in 52.54, lowering his old mark of 52.89 set at last month's U.S. trials. Team-mate Matt Grevers earned the silver in 53.11 with Arkady Vyatchanin of Russia and Australian Hayden Stoeckel tied for the bronze in 53.18.

The Americans have won the men's 100m back at four consecutive Olympics, with Peirsol taking the title at the 2004 Athens Games in a time that was 0.17 seconds slower.

Another American, Natalie Coughlin, won the women's 100m backstroke, to become the first woman in history to defend her title in the event.

Coughlin finished in 58.96 seconds, briefly going under world-record pace at the 50m mark. World record holder Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe earned the silver in 59.19 with American Margaret Hoelzer taking bronze in 59.34. Six of the eight finalists swam under the one minute mark.

Coughlin was earning her second medal of the Games, having won a silver in the 4x100m freestyle relay. Coventry was the silver medalist in the 400m individual medley.

Australia's world champion and world record holder Leisel Jones is now Olympic champion as well after her all-the-way victory in the 100 meters breaststroke final.

Jones made amends for her Olympic disappointment in Athens four years ago, winning just outside her world record in a time of one minute 05.17 seconds.

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American Rebecca Soni claimed the silver medal in 1:06.73 with Austria's Mirna Jukic third in 1:07.34. Jones, 22, was two-tenths of a second under world record pace at the turn and the record eluded her by just 8/100ths of a second.

Jones has turned her career around since the 2004 Olympics where she finished with silver and bronze in the breaststroke events after going in as the favorite. She changed coaches and has since gone on to smash world records in the 100 and 200 meters and become the first swimmer to win the double breaststroke gold at two consecutive world championships.

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