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Phelps, Lochte swim for US in freestyle relay finals

Gold medal is Phelps' 21st

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(Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte swam for the United States as it won gold in the men's 4x200-meter freestyle relay Tuesday night.

Great Britain won the silver medal and Japan took bronze.

The U.S. has won the event dating back to the 2004 Olympics, including the 2012 London Games that saw Lochte, Conor Dwyer, Ricky Berens and Phelps swim for gold.

However, after years of dominating the event at their top international meet, the U.S. finished second to Great Britain at the 2015 world championships.

Phelps, who anchored the race for the U.S., won his 21st Olympic gold medal

Lochte appeared in his fourth straight 4x200-meter freestyle relay Olympic final and has now won 12 Olympic medals in his career. He will get a chance for 13 starting Wednesday when he renews his 200m individual medley rivalry with Phelps.

Lochte, Clark Smith, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz made up the U.S. team that qualified in the prelims earlier Tuesday, posting the fastest time in their heat at 7:06.74, which was also good for second fastest time overall behind Great Britain by 0.43 seconds.

The U.S., which took gold in the 4x100-meter free on Sunday, holds the world and Olympic records in the 200.