France’s Yannick Agnel captured his second gold medal in 24 hours at the London Olympics when he won the men's 200 metres freestyle final on Monday.
Agnel, whose stunning anchor leg swim won France the 4x100 freestyle relay on Sunday night, led all the way to win the gold in a time of one minutes 43.14 seconds, 1.14 outside Paul Biedermann's world record, set at the 2009 world championships in Rome when the now-banned polyurethane bodysuits were allowed. China’s Sun Yang, who won the 400 freestyle on Saturday, deadheated for second with South Korea’s Park Tae-hwan in 1:44.93 while American world champion Ryan Lochte was fourth.
The 200 requires a combination of speed, stamina and tactical nous and Agnel had all three in abundance, dictating the race from the outset then bursting clear of his rivals on the final lap to provide France with their third gold medal in London's Aquatic Centre.
Missy Franklin of the United States won the women's 100 metres backstroke gold medal, stopping the clock at 58.33 seconds. Australia’s Emily Seebohm won silver in 58.68 seconds while Aya Terakawa won bronze in 58.83 seconds.
Meanwhile, Matt Grevers of the United States won the men's 100 metres backstroke gold with Olympic record time of 52.16 seconds, while his compatriot Nick Thoman won silver in 52.92 and Japan's Ryosuke Irie took bronze in 52.97. Silver for Phelps
Swimmer Michael Phelps won his 17th Olympic medal to take him closer to the all-time mark, but his US freestyle relay team were upstaged by France as records fell in the pool on Sunday's second day of competition at the London Games.
Phelps won his first ever silver after swimming a storming second leg in the 4x100 freestyle relay to lift his overall medal tally to 17, just one shy of the all-time record held by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina.
But a flying anchor leg from France's Agnel snatched the gold from the fingertips of Phelps's team-mate and great individual rival Ryan Lochte. Australia, the fastest qualifiers and looking to notch a famous victory against their traditional rivals for pool supremacy, were soundly beaten into fourth.
France avenged their defeat to the United States in Beijing four years ago. Agnel, swimming the anchor leg for the French, reeled in Lochte on the last lap to win gold for France in three minutes, 09.93 seconds.
The Americans, who gambled and lost when they called up Lochte ahead of their sprint specialists, held on to take the silver medal after an exhilarating finish. Russia got the bronze medal while Australia, who dubbed themselves a "weapon of mass destruction" after winning last year's world championship title, could only manage fourth.
Four years ago, Phelps won an unprecedented eight golds in Beijing, including the men's relay when the US famously came from behind to beat France on the last lap.
Camille Muffat of France fought off a ferocious challenge from Allison Schmitt to win the women's 400 metres freestyle final on Sunday.
Muffat had to draw on all her reserves of strength to win the gruelling eight-lap race as Schmitt, who trains alongside Michael Phelps in Baltimore, tried to reel her in.
Muffat timed her finish to perfection to get her hand on the wall first in four minutes, 01.45 seconds, an Olympic record, while Schmitt was second in 4:01.77.
Britain's Rebecca Adlington, the Beijing champion, finished strongly to get the bronze in 4:03.11, giving the home-nation their first medal in London's Aquatic Centre and eliciting a huge roar from the crowd.