North America: Kalisz Proving He Can Continue U.S. Legacy In 200 IM


Beginning in 2003, the American men have been dominant in the 200 IM. Michael Phelps won his first World Championship title in the event that year, going onto win two more consecutively in ’05 and ’07. Ryan Lochte then took over in 2009, winning a record four straight titles. Phelps has also won four straight Olympic titles in the event, but with neither of them in the field this year, that reign looked to be reaching an end.

Enter Chase Kalisz, the 23-year-old who Phelps has referred to as a ‘little brother’. Kalisz grew up training at Phelps’ club in North Baltimore, and has been the top American in the 400 IM since 2013.

With Phelps retiring after the Rio Games, and Lochte ineligible to qualify for Worlds due to suspension, this event was considered one of the most wide open at U.S. World Trials. Kalisz was the slight favorite to win and qualify for Worlds, but his ability to be competitive internationally was up in the air.

Prior to this season, his best time was 1:58.52, pedestrian relative to the 1:54s and 1:55s Phelps, Lochte and the top swimmers had been putting up over the years.

But Kalisz really came into his own this year in the 200 IM, as well as the 200 fly. The former Georgia Bulldog lowered his PB to 1:57.7 in April, 1:57.2 in May, and then 1:56.5 in June at Trials in Indianapolis. That swim certainly put Kalisz in medal territory in Budapest, but gold still seemed like a reach with Japan’s Kosuke Hagino holding a PB of 1:55.07 and German Philip Heintz hitting 1:55.76 earlier in the year.

However, Kalisz has continued to improve in Budapest. After posting the #2 prelim time in 1:56.48, another best, he broke into the 1:55s for the first time tonight in the semis, clocking 1:55.88 to lead the field into the final.

Though the gold medal is largely up for grabs between a number of swimmers, Kalisz has proved he can compete internationally beyond the 400 IM, continuing the great American tradition in the 200 IM. He out-split Hagino, who sits 2nd at 1:56.04 after semis, by over two seconds on the back half. Unless Hagino can shore up that end of his race, Kalisz could give the Americans their 8th straight world title, and their 12th straight win across Olympics and World Championships combined.

If he pulls it off, he’ll have to be the favorite heading into the 400 IM on the 8th and final day. Prior to 2013, the U.S. had won 7 of the last 8 World or Olympic titles in that event, but haven’t since. Daiya Seto has won back-to-back world titles, and Hagino ended the American streak of five Olympic 400 IM golds in Rio, as Kalisz took silver.


  • Kathleen Baker broke the American record in the women’s 50 back semi-finals in 27.48. She breaks Natalie Coughlin‘s 27.51 mark from 2015.
  • Kylie Masse broke the 50 back Canadian national record of 27.67 in 27.64, placing 10th in the semis.
  • The U.S. mixed medley relay teams broke the world record in both prelims (3:40.28) and the final (3:38.56). The Canadian team also broke thier national record in 3:41.25. Read more about it below.


  • Katie Ledecky suffered her first international defeat individually in the women’s 200 free, taking the silver in a time of 1:55.18.
  • The American team of Matt GreversLilly KingCaeleb Dressel and Simone Manuel broke the world record and won gold decisively in the mixed 400 medley relay in a time of 3:38.56. The prelim team, comprised of four completely different swimmers, first broke the British world record of 3:41.71 in 3:40.28. Notably, Dressel split 49.92 on the fly leg in the final despite the slowest reaction time of all 24 swimmers with a takeover.
  • After Kylie Masse got Canada on the board with a gold medal and world record in the women’s 100 back on day 3, the Canadians picked up a second medal in the mixed relay. Masse, Richard FunkPenny Oleksiak and Yuri Kisil combined to tie China in 3:41.25 for the bronze medal, just 0.04 behind the silver medal winning Australians. Kisil was one of just two men swimming the freestyle leg, diving in 7th before pulling the team all the way up to 3rd.


  • Caeleb Dressel (47.66), Nathan Adrian (47.85), 2nd and 3rd in the men’s 100 free semis.
  • Kathleen Baker (27.48), 3rd in women’s 50 back semis.
  • Chase Kalisz (1:55.88), 1st in men’s 200 IM semis.


Rank Federation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 United States of AmericaUnited States of America 6 7 3 16
2  CanadaCanada 1 0 1 2

The U.S. added to their medal lead with one gold and one silver, but it was their lowest single-day total so far. Canada picks up another, officially tied for 6th on the medal table with South Africa.

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JP input is too short

Is it about time to start asking if that once-seemingly-untouchable 400 IM world record is back on the table?

Coach Mike 1952

Not just yet, methinks. But maybe soon – next year? But maybe Chase K will surprise us too. After all, MP said that if he wanted anyone to break his (to us, almost untouchable) 4:03.84 from Beijing (which BTW as .01 faster than Janet Evans wonderful 400 LCM Free record from Seoul), it would be his “little brother”, Chase.


Chase is a stud one of my favorite swimmers to watch


Race video?

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James formerly competed for the Laurentian Voyageurs in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in February of 2018, placing 11th at the OUA Championships in the 200 IM, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics in May. He …

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