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Swimming: U.S. qualifies fastest for men's medley relay

Michael Phelps of the U.S. reacts after placing first in his men's 100m butterfly semi-final during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre August 2, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

LONDON (Reuters) - Michael Phelps will get the chance to end his incredible Olympic career with yet another gold medal after the United States safely navigated their way into the final of the men’s 4x100 meters medley relay.

The Americans set the fastest time in Friday’s qualifying heats, despite resting their top four swimmers, including Phelps, and will start Saturday’s final as the overwhelming favorites to win the gold.

Nick Thoman, Eric Shanteau, Tyler McGill and Cullen Jones set a combined time of three minutes, 32.65 seconds, to qualify fastest ahead of Britain, Japan and Australia.

Apart from the 1980 Moscow Games, which the U.S. boycotted, the Americans have won the event at every Olympics when it has been held, in a world record time, and have a lethal combination this time.

In addition to the incomparable Phelps, who will swim the butterfly leg, the U.S. team for the final will include Matt Grevers, who won gold in the 100 backstroke, Nathan Adrian, who won gold in the 100 freestyle and Brendan Hansen, bronze medalist in the 100 breaststroke.

“I just wanted to go out and set it up for the guys,” Shanteau said.

“We’re going to be in the stands waving flags. None of us will be in the final relay so we just wanted to bring it home.”

Reporting by Julian Linden; Editing by Greg Stutchbury