Michael Phelps Wins One for the Road

“He always coveted wanting to be a captain,” said the 50 freestyle champion, Anthony Ervin, who explained why it was not possible before this year. “Being Michael requires such isolation,” he said, adding: “But this time he started reaching out to other people, bringing them closer. That was special for the entire team to see that.”

Phelps’s leadership was key on a squad replete with athletes who have no memories of an Olympics without him. “He’s been the greatest swimmer for as long as I can remember,” said Maya DiRado, a first-time Olympian who won three individual medals, one of each hue, and added a relay gold.


Cody Miller, Michael Phelps, Ryan Murphy and Nathan Adrian below.

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

DiRado said that Phelps’s teammates had watched in wonder as he reached the wall first in the 200 butterfly despite a labored final few meters, and that they had marveled at his two-second victory in the 200 I.M. “We just sat looking at each other like, ‘How?’” DiRado said with a laugh. She added, “That’s what he’s done…

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