RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Michael Phelps was on course to win the 23rd Olympic swimming medal of his career after being named in the U.S. 4x100 meters freestyle relay team on Sunday.

The official start list had Phelps, who has 18 golds to his credit, swimming the second leg after Caeleb Dressel with Ryan Held and 2012 Olympic 100 meters freestyle champion Nathan Adrian completing the line-up.

The U.S. men have medaled in every Olympics 4x100 freestyle relay since the event made its first appearance in 1964.

They qualified with the second fastest time in the preliminaries, which Phelps did not race, behind Russia and ahead of old rivals Australia.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Greg Stutchbury)