A more appropriate color.
"I've put my mind to doing something that nobody had ever done before," Phelps said. "This has been an amazing ride."
About an hour earlier, Phelps took one of his most frustrating defeats at the pool, blowing it at the finish and settling for silver in his signature event, the 200 butterfly.
That tied the record for career medals held by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, but it was hardly a triumphant moment. Phelps slung away his cap in disgust and struggled to force a smile at the medal ceremony.
But any disappointment from that race was gone by the time he dived in the water on the relay, having been staked to a huge lead by teammates Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer and Ricky Berens.
Before the race, they all huddled together, fully aware of their role in history.
"I thanked those guys for helping me get to this moment," Phelps said. "I told those guys I wanted a big lead. I was like, 'You better give me a big lead going into the last lap,' and they gave it to me. I just wanted to hold on. I thanked them for being able to allow me to have this moment."
Berens handed off a lead of nearly 4 seconds to Phelps, who was extra cautious with the exchange, knowing the only way he could ruin this one was to get disqualified.
Lochte stood on the deck, waving his arms. Dwyer and Berens pumped their fists. And Phelps touched the wall for his first gold of the London Games with a cumulative time of 6 minutes, 59.70 seconds.
Phelps has 15 golds in his career, six more than anyone else, to go along with two silvers and two bronzes.
"You are now a complete legend!" the public-address announcer bellowed, accompanied by the Foo Fighters' song "Best of You."
Phelps still has three more events in London before he retires.
The 200 butteffly was a race he had not lost at either the Olympics or world championships since Sydney, when he finished fifth as an unknown 15-year-old just soaking up the moment.
Phelps, after leading the entire race, tried to glide into the wall instead of taking one more stroke. South Africa's Chad le Clos took that extra stroke and beat Phelps by five-hundredths of a second.
In the first final of the night, American Allison Schmitt, from the University of Georgia, won the 200 freestyle with a dominating performance that left everyone else, including teammate Missy Franklin, battling for the other medals.
Schmitt won in an Olympic-record 1:53.61. France's Camille Muffat took silver in 1:55.58, almost a body length behind, while Bronte Barrett of Australia took the bronze over Franklin by a hundredth of a second. Barrett touched in 1:55.81. Franklin, who led after the first 50, was fourth in 1:55.82.
"I was just racing," Schmitt said. "I knew I had to kick it. I just look at that scoreboard and see 53 and first place. I couldn't be happier."