It's all going swimmingly for the USA

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The Independent Online

It rained medals for an impressive USA team in the pool here yesterday, and not just for a top-class MP. Britain's day was more damp squib than shower of precious metal.

Leaving aside Michael Phelps's 200m freestyle gold, the US won two other golds, two silvers and two bronzes, and clocked two world records in the process.

The day after Rebecca Adlington won her stunning gold, other British swimmers set three national records through Gemma Spofforth, Liam Tancock and the men's 4x200m freestyle relay team. But there were no podium placings to follow the two on Monday, and Spofforth had to endure an agonising near miss in the women's 100m backstroke.

The 20-year-old from Shoreham in Sussex, who studies at and swims for a Florida university, clocked a personal best, and British record, of 58.38sec to finish just 0.04 seconds shy of a medal place. The USA's Natalie Coughlin and Margaret Hoelzer took gold and bronze. Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry was second.

"I'm sure I will calm down and realise I finished fourth in an Olympic final, but at the moment it's just so painful to look up at that scoreboard and be so close to gold," said Spofforth.

"The last 15 metres I dug in and gave it all I had and it just wasn't meant to be. I didn't have what it takes this year but maybe in 2012 I will be able to prove I have what it takes. I didn't realise it was a personal best until I was crawling out of the water, but fourth is painful to see."

Tancock finished sixth in the men's 100m backstroke final. America's Aaron Peirsol broke his own world record to take gold in 52.54sec, with compatriot Matt Grevers taking silver. Tancock typically stormed to a half-way lead he could not sustain, but did set a new British mark of 53.39sec.

"It was exciting in my first Olympic final to come sixth, with a British record and in a world-class field," said the 23-year-old from Exeter. "The medals could have come from anywhere and it was not for me today but it took a world record to win it, so it is nice to be part of it."

Scotland's Robbie Renwick, 20, finished eighth and last in Phelps's 200m procession, but was pleased just to have reached an Olympic final. He only squeezed into the semis as a first reserve, and then posted a personal best to progress to yesterday's Phelps-fest, in which another American, Peter Vanderkayy was third.

"It was amazing," Renwick said. "I've now got to keep training hard and hope to get there in London 2012â·¦the short term focus now is on the [4x200m freestyle] relay."

Racing in the same heat as the USA, Britain finished second in a national record time of 7min 7.89sec. The Americans fielded a largely reserve team but still won easily, paving the way for Phelps to step back in for this morning's final. The Brits were fourth fastest overall behind the USA, Italy and Russia.