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World Records Records Highlight Olympic Swimming Action

Swimming records were rewritten in several events Monday at the summer games in Beijing. As VOA's Jim Stevenson reports from the Olympics, one record kept American Michael Phelps on track in his special golden quest.

A razor-thin finish in 4x100-meter freestyle relay meant the difference between victory and the end of an attempt by Michael Phelps to win a record eight gold medals at a single Olympics.

American teammate Jason Lezak made a stunning chase to barely overtake 100-meter freestyle specialist Alain Bernard of France.

"He is the former world record holder. I did not really know how fast he was going to be able to swim. And I knew I was going to have to swim out of my mind."

Lezak secured a win with a world record time of 3:08.24 minutes.

Another world record fell in the men's 100-meter breaststroke when Kosuke Kitajima touched the wall in 58.91 seconds.

Rebecca Adlington became the first British woman in 48 years to win an Olympic swimming gold by winning the 400-meter freestyle. Her teammate, Joanne Jackson placed third behind American Katie Hoff. Adlington says the double podium finish is proof that Britain is now a solid contender.

"This is definitely the best British team we have ever had," she said. "We just keep getting stronger and stronger. And we have proven that we are a nation to look out for now."

Hoff, who was a pre-Olympic favorite to win several events, has yet to secure a gold medal. She saw the result of her race when she looked up at the overhead video screen.

"I was racing strong the whole way," she said. "I could not really see exactly where I was. But I felt like I had a shot all the way to the wall. It was seven-100ths [of a second difference]. So it is kind of hard to know if you are first or second at that point. And I turned around and saw second. There was a little bit of disappointment. But then I think it is [good to have] a silver medal at the Olympics."

Australian Lisbeth Trickett emerged the winner of the women's 100-meter butterfly.

Jumping from the 10-meter platform, Lin Yue and Hou Liang gave host China a gold in men's synchronized diving. China also picked up two weightlifting gold medals, highlighted by a 319-kilogram lift by Zhang Xiangxiang in the men's 62-kilogram weight class. Chen Yanqing defended her women's 58-kilo title.

Thailand picked up its second gold of the Olympics by topping the men's 10-meter air rifle final while Ukraine took the top honor in women's trap shooting. Men's team archery gold was claimed by South Korea.

The 56-kilo women's judo title belongs to Italy while Azerbaijan won gold in the men's 73-kilogram division.

Italy took a second fencing title in as many days as Maria Valentina Vezzali was the best in women's individual foil.

After three days of competition, China leads the medal standings with nine gold, three silver and two bronze. Ranked by gold medals, South Korea follows with four. The United States and Italy have three each.