The HardCoreSwim of the week goes to Georgia’s Chase Kalisz for a gargantuan 200 fly performance in this week’s Florida-Georgia dual.
A 1:43 in the 200 fly on November 1st is a great swim on paper, no doubt. But so much of what makes this a stop-and-stare swim is in what transpired before, and after, the best 200 fly swim in the NCAA thus far.
Friday night, Kalisz’s Bulldogs arrived in Gainesville for a knock-down drag-out SEC battle with rival Florida. A clash of two top-10 NCAA opponents, it was a highly-anticipated meet for fans, and almost certainly more so for the swimmers themselves.
Early in the meet, it became clear that things were going Florida’s way. The Gators took the opening medley relay by tenths. They went 1-2 in the 1000. Even when Georgia picked up a win in the 200 free, Florida swept the next three spots to keep the score differential to a minimum.
It can be difficult to swim fast when things aren’t going your way. It can feel like you’re swimming against the tide. Many good swimmers get swept away by it. But great ones rise above.
If we didn’t know it already, Chase Kalisz proved he’s a great swimmer.
He didn’t just swim a lifetime best to win the 200 fly for Georgia. He smashed his own lifetime best by nearly 2 seconds. And he didn’t just beat a good field, he touched out Marcin Cieslak, Florida’s stud 200 flyer and runner-up at last year’s NCAAs.
Kalisz’s time of 1:43.55 would have placed him 7th at NCAAs, perhaps leading to speculation that he could drop the 200 breast and opt for the butterfly come March. Even if he ultimately doesn’t, a performance like this is enough to give rival coaches and swimmers just enough reason to spend some time worrying about his event selection when NCAA qualifying comes.
That’s not to say Kalisz has any reason to avoid the 200 breast. In fact, one more bit that makes this swim so special is that Kalisz came back just 7 events later to not only win the 200 breaststroke, but also put up the top time in the nation thus far.
If that’s not a metaphorical way of saying “I’m only getting started,” then I’m not sure what is.
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