Rebecca Adlington today became the first British woman to win Olympic swimming gold for 48 years with a brilliant victory in the 400 metres freestyle.
Team-mate Joanne Jackson also took bronze in a thrilling finish as Britain matched their total medal haul from Athens in 2004 in a single race.
Adlington snatched gold ahead of American Katie Hoff, winning by 0.07 seconds in a time of four minutes 3.22secs with Jackson third in 4:03.52.
The 19-year-old from Mansfield is the first British woman to claim gold since Anita Lonsbrough in 1960.
Adlington and Jackson are also the first British women to win a medal since Sarah Hardcastle in Los Angeles in 1984. Hardcastle won silver in the 400m freestyle and bronze in the 800m freestyle, the event in which Adlington is ranked world number one in 2008.
A thrilled Adlington said: "We are both so happy to have two British girls on the podium. I don't think either of us expected it and especially a gold and a bronze, it's absolutely amazing.
"It hasn't sunk in yet. I'm just over the moon."
Northampton's Jackson, 21, added: "I didn't really know what to expect this morning because it was a hard swim last night to get into the final. For two British girls to get on the podium is amazing and I am so happy for both of us. It's great for British swimming."
Victory came on the day it was revealed Adlington's parents had lost £1,100 in a scam after buying tickets online for the 800m final, although they have now secured genuine tickets and will fly to the Chinese capital on Wednesday.
Adlington and Jackson paced their race to perfection, reaching 100m and 200m in sixth and eighth place respectively. Just over half a second separated the field at the halfway point as the British duo began to up the tempo, Adlington reaching 300m in fifth and Jackson just ahead in fourth.
Hoff looked to have a built a decisive lead but Adlington powered up the final 50m to win it at the wall.
"It was a lot harder this morning. We just tried to ignore the times and race the final," added Adlington. "I don't think either of us are natural sprinters, we don't do the 100m free so we are naturally suited to the back half of the race.
"We didn't panic when we were a little bit behind. I didn't see anyone past Katie, I didn't know what was going on. I couldn't see what there was on the other side of the pool, I saw Katie and just tried to catch her."
Elsewhere, Michael Phelps' bid for a record eight golds was kept alive in dramatic fashion in the 4x100m freestyle relay as the United States snatched gold from France with a new world record.
Phelps set a blistering pace on the first leg but after 300m the American quartet trailed France and it took a brilliant swim from Jason Lezak on the final leg to win in a time of 3:08.24, just 0.08 ahead of France with Australia third. Britain's quartet of Simon Burnett, Adam Brown, Benjamin Hockin and Ross Davenport finished eighth.
There was also a world record for Kosuke Kitajima in the 100m breaststroke, the Japanese swimmer becoming the first man to break the 59-second barrier with a time of 58.91 ahead of Norway's Alexander Oen and France's Hugues Duboscq.
And Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry also set a world record of 58.77 in winning the second semi-final of the women's 100m backstroke where Britain's Gemma Spofforth made the final after finishing third in her semi.
"I went out a bit slow yesterday so I wanted to go faster today and managed to hold on," said Spofforth, who saw team-mate Elizabeth Simmonds miss out. "I'm confident, I like being the underdog, I like going in and being someone that no one really recognises.
In the 200m freestyle, Britain's Robbie Renwick made the most of a second chance to qualify for the final.
Renwick initially looked to have missed out on today's semi-finals by just 0.01s in the heats, but was handed a reprieve when two other swimmers withdrew, and the 20-year-old from Aberdeen took full advantage.
"I knew there was a small chance someone would pull out and I just smashed my PB there so I'm really happy," said Renwick. "I found out last night at 10pm so that had me up for another two hours.
"I was mostly relieved and then I knew I could make the final. I'm feeling a bit lucky in this meet so hopefully if all goes well you never know what can happen. Anyone in the final is going for a medal and that's what I'm going to be doing.
"The last 12 hours have been an emotional rollercoaster for me but anything that doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I'm gaining all the experience I need so I'm really happy."
In the women's 100m butterfly final, Jemma Lowe finished sixth in a race won by Australia's Libby Trickett.
Lowe was fifth at the turn and in touch with the leaders, but touched in 58.06 as Trickett clocked a time of 56.73, 0.12 outside the world record.
Liam Tancock qualified for the final of the 100m backstroke after finishing third in his semi-final, but team-mate Gregor Tait was sixth in the same race and 12th fastest overall to miss out.
Kirsty Balfour and Kate Haywood missed out on a place in the final of the 100m breaststroke. Balfour was more than a second and a half outside her personal best in finishing last in the first semi, while Haywood was seventh in the quicker second semi in 1:08.36 to be 11th overall.