RIO DE JANEIRO -- Michael Phelps wasn't about to be stopped. Not even by his biggest rival.
Phelps blew away Ryan Lochte -- and everyone else, for that matter -- to win his fourth gold medal of the Rio Olympics and 22nd career Olympic gold medal with a victory in the 200-meter individual medley Thursday night.
Phelps also set an Olympic record with his 15th individual medal, passing Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, and became the first swimmer ever to win the same event at four straight Olympics.
"Winning four in a row, when the announcer said that, I had a really hard time holding it together," Phelps told NBC.
"I'm just living a dream come true."
Phelps was back in the water 38 minutes later to swim in the 100-meter butterfly semifinals. He finished second in the first semifinal and fifth overall to advance to the final, which will be his last individual event.
He said he knew the quick turnaround "was going to be painful," but added that he's "gotta step on the gas."
If Phelps wins gold in the 100 fly, it will be his fourth straight win in the event. Then, he'll close out these Olympics in the 4x100 medley relay.
"Things started to hit me this morning," Phelps said. "I only get to put a racing suit on two more times after tonight."
The 200 IM was touted as the last showdown between two of America's greatest swimmers, although there has never been any question about which one has the upper hand.
Phelps left Lochte trailing in his wake. He finished a full body length ahead of the field with total dominance on the breaststroke and freestyle legs, touching in 1 minute, 54.66 seconds.
"I've been able to kind of finish how I wanted to," Phelps said. "This is exactly how I want to exit the sport."
Lochte, a 12-time Olympic medalist, didn't even make it to the podium this time after taking two silvers and a bronze behind Phelps at the previous three Olympics. Lochte led at the midway point but faded to fifth with a time of 1:57.47.
"We bring out the best in each other," Lochte said. "I was a little bummed about my performance, but I was happy for him to get a gold and get one for Team USA."
Japan's Kosuke Hagino took the silver in 1:56.61, while China's Wang Shun claimed the bronze in 1:57.05.
While Phelps raced to roars in Rio, in his hometown of Baltimore, his showdown with Lochte was shown on the giant video board during a break in the fourth quarter of the Ravens' preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. The crowd cheered as Phelps reached the finish line.
"It's not too many athletes who are going to have the world stop just to watch him," Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said. "We had a real-life football game going on, and everybody just stopped to look at him. My hat goes off to Michael Phelps. He's just an amazing athlete, an amazing citizen, who has set the bar for athletes all around."
Phelps said he was texting with a friend who updated him on the Baltimore score before he went out for his race. The Ravens went on to win 22-19.
"I look forward to getting home to a Ravens game really soon," Phelps said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.