The relay that was swum by Aaron Peirsol (backstroke), Brendan Hansen (breastroke), Phelps (butterfly) and Lezak (freestyle) with a time of 3:29.34, beating out the Australian men and smashing the U.S.'s previous world record. The squad of Peirsol, Hansen, Ian Crocker and Lezak won the gold in Athens, so it was the U.S. team's race to lose.
The Water Cube was packed Sunday morning to witness history in the making.
"There are definitely more people here than any other session. For the entire meet, pretty much the last four rows of the media section have been empty. Not this one though!" USA Swimming's biomechanics coordinator Russell Mark told ABCNews.com from his post in The Water Cube.
You can imagine the nerves of each athlete on the final relay team, let alone the men who swam in prelims. Matt Grevers, who swam the backstroke leg of the preliminary 4x100-meter medley relay and won silver in the 100-meter backstroke, said he didn't think the squad would ever make it out of China if they were disqualified.
Well, the U.S. men can sleep easier tonight, as they've helped a teammate achieve his goal.
Phelps' relay team member Hansen (fourth-place finisher in the men's 100-meter breastroke) said of Phelps' eight-medal achievement, "This beats the Tour de France, it beats the U.S. Open ... it beats every part of what sport is ... all athletes should tip their hats to Phelps."
When asked about the possibility of winning eight golds, and if he felt it was physically possible, Phelps replied, "In my dreams I always wanted it."
(Tipping my hat) If that's not motivating, I don't know what is.