Mark Baker, Associated Press
Michael Phelps on his way to winning the gold medal in the men's 200-meter individual medley earlier today in Beijing.

BEIJING — Michael Phelps hung on the lane rope in a familiar pose, admiring another world record while his rivals gasped for breath. Make it 6-for-6 at the Beijing Games.

Next up: Mark Spitz and the grandest of Olympic records.

Blowing away the field, Phelps won the 200-meter individual medley in a record 1 minute, 54.23 seconds — more than two seconds ahead of the next guy. He knocked off his own mark of 1:54.80 set at last month's U.S. trials, his sixth world record in China.

Phelps matched his wins from Athens four years ago, where he also took six golds along with two bronzes. He's already the most successful athlete in Olympic history with 12 golds, but his sights are on eight.

Spitz won seven golds at the 1972 Munich Games. Phelps has two more events to leave little doubt he's the greatest Olympian ever.

Ryan Lochte tried to pull off a daunting double, going against Phelps just 29 minutes after swimming the final of the 200 backstroke. He couldn't keep up, though he did hold on for bronze. Laszlo Cseh of Hungary picked up his third silver of the Games — all of them trailing Phelps.

When the official results were posted, Phelps extended his right hand to Lochte in the next lane. The friends shook hands and patted each other on the head.

Later, they yucked it up on the medal stand before Phelps hustled off to grab his racing gear; he had to come back for the semifinals of the 100 butterfly.

"I switched from my dress sweats to my parka, shoes, threw my cap and goggles on and then they pushed us on out. No time," he said. "The medal was in my warmup jacket."

History can't wait.

A half-hour after winning another gold, Phelps was second fastest behind Milorad Cavic of Croatia in the 100 fly, setting himself up to tie Spitz's record in Saturday's final. World record-holder Ian Crocker of the U.S. bounced back from a disappointing swim in the prelims to post the third-fastest time.

"There wasn't much time," Phelps said, "but I think there's going to be a lot of time for me to rest over the next 18 hours or so, and I'll be able to be ready for tomorrow morning's 100."

If all goes according to plan, Phelps will get No. 7 in the fly — his signature stroke — and have the coronation Sunday in the 400 medley relay. The Americans are always heavily favored for gold in that one.

Nevertheless, he's taking nothing for granted, especially in the fly.

"It's definitely a tough race," he said.

Phelps' win was the 21st world record set in swimming during the Olympics, with two days left.