Michael Phelps Wins Silver in 200-Meter Butterfly, Ties For Most Medals Ever

World champion swimmer Michael Phelps is getting this close to winning the most Olympic medals ever.

Michael Phelps finished second today in the 200 meter Butterfly in London, and in so doing tied the record for most Olympic medals ever at 18 in his medal hunt. Phelps was unsuccessful, however, in becoming the first swimmer in history to win the same event at three straight Olympics.

With today’s Silver, Michael Phelps’ medal count is 14 gold, two silver, and two bronze. Earlier in the 2012 London Olympics, he won a silver in the 4×100 freestyle relay. Although Phelps, 27, has taken home the most gold medals in Olympic history, he has yet to earn a gold medal in the current Games.

According to Yahoo! Sports, Phelps was in the lead most of the way in today’s event but then…

The American swimming star was defeated in the final meters of the 200 butterfly, the signature race he had won decisively at the previously two Olympics. In the final meters, Phelps’ stroke fell apart and he couldn’t hold off South African Chad le Clos, who stormed from behind to win by .05 seconds.

Michael Phelps has now tied Larisa Latynina as the most decorated Olympic athlete. Latynina, who helped the Soviet Union assert its dominance in female gymnastics during the 1960s, earned 18 medals (9 gold, 5 silver, 4 bronze). Her record has stood since 1964.

Phelps will swim in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay, the 100-meter butterfly, and the 200-meter individual medley. A medal in any of these events will break the all-time Olympics record.

Phelps’ total medal count after the 2012 Summer Games will be the most Olympic medals for his career. Phelps has already announced that he’ll be retiring from competitive swimming after the 2012 Olympic Games.