By By Jim Rusnak//Director of Media Properties | Friday, June 30, 2017
INDIANAPOLIS – Four years ago – in this very pool – Chase Kalisz qualified for the 2013 FINA World Championships, his first major international competition.
It was the start of what has been a solid showing on the international stage, where he has won four medals, all in the same event – the 400m IM.
As a rookie at Worlds in 2013, he took the field by surprise to win silver, then followed that performance with a bronze at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships.
He won another bronze at the 2015 World Championships, before having his best showing at an international meet last year at the Olympic Games in Rio, where he missed gold by seven-tenths of a second behind Kosuke Hagino of Japan, in a race that came down to the finish.
Thursday, at the 2017 Phillips 66 National Championships, Kalisz earned the right to take another crack at the 400m IM on the world stage, winning the event in 4:06.99. The swim was not only the fastest time in the world this year, but only .24 seconds off his silver-medal-winning time in Rio.
“Four-o-six right now is way ahead of schedule and where I normally am, so I feel good, and I’m ready to get back to Athens (Georgia) and get some work in (before Worlds),” Kalisz said.
In his sights is that world title, the gold that has up until this point eluded him in international competition. And winning it in Budapest won’t be easy.
Not only will he be up against Hagino and Daiya Seto – the Japanese swimmers who, between the two, have won every 400m IM title on the world stage since 2013 – but also Hungarian David Verraszto, who took silver ahead of Kalisz in the at the 2015 World Championships and who will be swimming in front of a home crowd.
Those three swimmers and Kalisz are the four fastest swimmers in the world this year in this event.
“It’s too early for me to really think about that,” Kalisz said. “But I think I’m in a position to be able to race for a title, especially after last summer. I tell people all the time the best thing that happened to me for a four-year period was me getting silver. It motivates me every single day. I think about it every single thing I do. I’m more excited to have the opportunity to race those guys and not really chase a time this summer. I’m going to go out there and race – race my hardest.”
As far as his own development as a swimmer goes, Kalisz has broadened his sights beyond the 400m IM. On the first night of competition this week here in Indy, he narrowly missed making the World Championships team in the 200m butterfly, finishing third behind Georgia teammate Clark Pace by 21-hundredths of a second. He has a day off Friday, but will be back in the pool on the final night in the 200m IM.
“I think the biggest thing is that I don’t really label myself as just a 400 IMer anymore,” Kalisz said. “I’m not really sure what else I am, but I’m starting to gain confidence in other things. I don’t go into a meet just expecting to do a good 400 IM. I prepare myself to race other events and race them hard. So far, it’s gone well and I’m excited for the 200 IM, and I even more excited for a day of rest tomorrow.”
He’s also no longer that green rookie he was when he made his first World Championships Team four years ago. As a veteran, he’s happy to guide the younger swimmers on the team – if they want his guidance, that is.
“If they want my advice, I’m happy to give them it,” Kalisz said. “But I think anyone that makes the team at this point, they know what they’re doing. They’re a high-level, high-class swimmer. They’re going to do the same thing I did – watch how everyone functions and learn that way. That’s going to be the biggest thing they learn – how we all operate.”
A number of records fell Thursday at the Indiana University Natatorium Thursday. The biggest was Lilly King’s American, U.S. Open and meet record of 29.66 in the women’s 50m breaststroke. It was King’s second win of the meet after taking the 200m breast Wednesday.
Kevin Cordes set the meet record in the men’s 50m breast in 26.88, while Hannah Stevens and Justin Ress set meet records in the women’s and men’s 50m backstroke in 27.63 and 24.41, respectively.
Finishing second behind Kalisz in the men’s 400m IM was Georgia teammate and fellow Olympian Jay Litherland in 4:06.99.
Olympian Leah Smith won the women’s 400m IM in 4:33.86. It marks the third event in which Smith has qualified for Worlds. She also made the team in the 800m free and the 200m free.
Finishing second behind Smith was Elizabeth Beisel in 4:38.55. Beisel initially touched the wall in third, but was bumped after Ella Eastin was disqualified. Beisel has been a member of the U.S. team at every major international competition – World Championships, Pan Pacific Championships and Olympic Games – since 2006.
Here's what Beisel had to say about qualifying for the team, and on Eastin's disqualification:
Olympian Caeleb Dressel won his second event of the meet in the men’s 100m butterfly in 50.87. It was the fastest time in the world this year. He also won the 50m fly on Wednesday. Tim Phillips was second in 51.30.
Olympian Kelsi Worrel won the women’s 100m fly in 57.38 for her second win of the week. She was also the champ in the women’s 50m fly. Touching behind her was Sarah Gibson in 57.96.
The first-place men and the top two women in the 400m IM and 100m fly were officially named to the U.S. World Championships Team tonight, along with the first-place finishers in the 50-meter events. The men’s second-place finishers in both the 400m and 100m fly will likely be added to the team pending swimmers qualifying in multiple events.