Ultra Swim Swimmer of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based swimmer who has proven themselves over the past month. As with any item of recognition, Swimmer of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one athlete whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a swimmer who was visibly outperforming other swimmers over the month, or one whose accomplishments slipped through the cracks among other high-profile swims. If your favorite athlete wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.
By and large, the 2018 edition of the Pan Pacific Championships wasn’t a banner meet for the United States. But for Chase Kalisz, it was a resounding success.
It’s been discussed plenty: what went wrong for Team USA. Jet lag, a short turnaround between Nationals and Pan Pacs, a lower-priority summer – whatever it was, the American team didn’t appear at its best in Tokyo. But Kalisz managed to swim at or near his lifetime-bests while maintaining a huge gap between himself and the rest of the world in the IM races.
Generally better-known as a 400 IMer, Kalisz has improved his 200 to dominant status. He went a lifetime-best 1:55.40 at Pan Pacs, blowing out the field by almost a full second. That’s a tenth faster than he went in winning the World Championships gold last summer and more than three full seconds faster than his lifetime-best in this event prior to 2017. Even better, the Pan Pacs silver medalist (Australia’s Mitch Larkin) is also the second in the world ranks, eight tenths behind Kalisz. And Kalisz also beat Kosuke Hagino – silver medalist in this event at 2017 Worlds and the 2016 Olympics – head-to-head at Pan Pacs by 1.2 seconds.
In the 400 IM, Kalisz didn’t quite clear his lifetime-best, but still blew out the field by more than three seconds. His 4:07.95 is first in the world rankings by a longshot, easily beating Asian Games champ Daiya Seto (who was 4:12.60 for bronze at Pan Pacs but 4:08.79 a few weeks later at Asian Games) as well as 2017 Worlds silver medalist and 2016 Olympic champ Hagino (4:11.13 at Pan Pacs).
Kalisz proved that even without going best times, he can visibly separate himself from the rest of the world’s IMer in a way his predecessors in the American IM group (Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte) have done for the past decade.
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