2017 ARENA PRO SWIM SERIES – MESA
- Mesa, Arizona
- April 13 – 15, 2017
- Series Points/Money after Indy
- Live stream
- Psych sheets
- Saturday finals heat sheets and timeline
- Live results
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.