Duncan Scott became the first British athlete to win four medals at a single Olympics as Team GB celebrated their best swimming haul at a Games.
Luke Greenbank, Adam Peaty, James Guy and Scott took silver in the men’s 4×100 metres medley relay final, finishing 0.73 seconds behind the United States, who claimed gold in a world record time of three minutes and 26.78 seconds.
Britain’s eighth medal – with four golds, three silvers and a bronze – in the final swimming event in the Japanese capital bettered their previous best tally in the pool of seven gongs, set at the London Games 113 years ago.
Scott has won gold in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay and silver in the solo event as well as finishing runner-up in the 200m individual medley, and it was another second spot on the podium on Sunday.
Greenbank, the 200m backstroke bronze medallist, was seventh after the opening leg, but Peaty, eyeing his third gold of these Olympics, swam a remarkable breaststroke split of 56.53s to take them into the lead.
Guy, also chasing a hat-trick of gold medals this week, swam his butterfly leg in a creditable 50.27s but was overtaken by the vaunted Caeleb Dressel, with American compatriot Zach Apple completing the job.
Victory for the USA was a second win on Sunday for Dressel after prevailing in the 50m freestyle earlier, capping a sensational Games for the 24-year-old, who has collected five golds in Japan and now has seven overall.
The USA-Britain one-two matched the result from the Rio 2016 Games.
Scott said: “It’s all my teammates, that’s what that is. I’m fortunate to be part of some excellent relay teams, this being one of them. We’re all pretty disappointed with this, but in 2015, when we started coming together, back-to-back Olympic silvers in this event, we’d have taken that all day. We’re coming in here to really challenge the Americans just like we did last time at worlds. With our splits, we all swam well, slightly disappointed with mine but that’s how it is. It’s been a tough week, but we’ve got to be happy with that.”