2017 Arena PSS Mesa Day 3 Analysis: Kalisz Could Help Fill Phelps’ Flippers in 200 IM


We didn’t do a “17 Big Questions for 2017” article, but if we did, undoubtedly one of the questions would have been “Who is going to step up and replace Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in the 200 IM this year?”

With Phelps retired and Lochte suspended, this summer will be the first time since 2001 that the USA will not have either man representing the Stars and Stripes in the 200 IM at a major international meet since 2001.

While there a number of men who have looked like they have the potential to fill in that gap, there was no clear leader, until this week.

Tonight, Chase Kalisz, Phelps’s former training partner and the silver medalist in the 400 IM last summer in Rio, pulled off an impressive double, winning the 200 fly in 1:55.82 and the 200 IM in 1:57.71.

Both those times are personal bests for Kalisz, with each of previous best times in those events coming at taper meets.  And while that 200 fly is certainly impressive, we’re going to focus on the 200 IM, because that’s where there appears to be even more of a gaping hole for the USA.

Other than Phelps and Lochte, only one other USA swimmer has even gone sub-1:57, and that was Eric Shanteau, back in 2009.  Leave out Shanteau, and there’s a three second gap between Phelps/Lochte and the 4th-fastest American ever, Tyler Clary and his 1:57.25.

Conor Dwyer, until tonight, is the only other active USA swimmer to break even 1:58.  Given that Lochte is suspended, and we haven’t seen much of Dwyer yet this year, that means that there is an absolute dearth of Team USA swimmers who have demonstrated the ability to make finals, much less medal, in this event at the international level.

With tonight’s 1:57.71, Kalisz jumps to the head of the pack in the race to make the USA’s World Championships team at the trials in Indianapolis this summer.  There are plenty of guys who could fill the second spot, but lots of question marks.

David Nolan went 1:58.16 at Olympic Trials, but hasn’t competed since then.  Josh Prenot, who swam next to Kalisz tonight, sports a personal best of 1:58.38 from the 2015 World University Games, while Will Licon has a similar time of 1:58.43 from the 2015 USA Nationals.  Michael Andrew could still drop some time from his 1:59.12, but hasn’t been looking great in-season, perhaps due to a change in training approach.  College stars like Gunnar Bentz, Jay Litherland, Abrahm DeVine, and Andrew Seliskar all certainly seem capable of dipping below the 1:59 mark as well.  Yet, the very fact that we’ve had to mention so many names simply underscores the fact that for years Team USA could count on Phelps and Lochte to pick up at least one medal in this event, usually gold.

 While Kalisz’s swim tonight in no way guarantees that the USA’s medal streak in the 200 IM will continue — whoever swims for the US in Budapest will likely face some stiff competition from the other side of the Pacific — it does represent a solid step forward in an event that had largely stalled behind Phelps and Lochte and pushes Kalisz to the top of the list of likely candidates to fill the hole left by their collective absence this summer.

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Phelps’ flippers? -1


whats the big deal about it ?

Steve Nolan

I mean, his swim in the 2 fly is arguably just as big. Shields went literally 0.01s faster to make Rio in the event.

I guess Shields, Conger and Bentz are just as likely to have big 2 fly swims as Prenot and Licon are in the 2 IM.


Conger and Kalisz will make the 200 fly team

Ex Quaker

I believe this would be the safe guess. I’d like to add my dark horse pick: Seliskar.


I believe he’s the 3rd fastest active 200 flyer he has a good chance


thats what i feel too – they are both the most talented for that distance and have the commitment to shine


Kalisz throwing down long course PRs in season post Olympics/ pre World champs. This is awesome. Others could step up for sure but Prenot and Conger seem to be the most in form. Disappointing times for Andrew. What’s going on there? Where is Reece Whitley?


Good question, my 2 cents…what might be going on with MA is that he may be reaching the limit of what his dad is capable of doing with him as his coach.

It may be in his best interest to swing by Tempe on his way out of Arizona and meet with Bob Bowman. And why is it that a professional swimmer should have such poor freestyle technique? Imagine how fast he could go if it was great.

At least he should try doing some David Marsh drills…free on you tube. But I don’t know if USRPT allows for that.


i would tend to think the same …..He needs to find a new Coaching method / training atmosphere . That seems very clear right now . A guy talented as he is with the Height he has must be able to get more our of his true potential .
Such a poor freestyle stroke is unbeleivable at this stage of his swimming career ; its time to get some technique drills to correct that stroke & make it more efficient for the 100/200 distances . If i was his Dad , i would already be connecting with David March or Dave Durden


I agree 100%…Change is hard. I just hope they don’t cling to USRPT out of pride. In the interview with Bob Bowman, he said USRPT was ‘very good’, but there needs to be a bigger more complete training of the energy systems. He certainly would be the one one to know.




Thanks Ervin! I’m sure MA’s competiotion are totally thrilled that he hasn’t got into a real training situation. It’s quite astonishing to me.


I think it’s game over.

The USRPT skeptics win.


I think MA would be 1:58 low right now at least if he would just not take his fly out in sub-25. Looking at his splits from that 1:59.1, it’s absurd that he goes out as fast as Phelps and Lochte. His freestyle is not great at the end… I think part of that is that the way that Dr. Rushall advocates freestyle be swum is limiting what he can do under fatigue, and the other part is just that he’s too dead by that point from taking it out so hard.


He has the amazing potential to be like Phelps/Lochte in the 200 IM. But he has to do what they did to become that great. Great coaching & the right training.

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