OMAHA, Neb. — Seconds after Chase Kalisz won the 400-meter individual medley at the Olympic Trials on Sunday night, ensuring his trip to the Tokyo Games, he got a hug from someone who knows a little bit about winning the IM at the Olympics — Michael Phelps.
Phelps trained with Kalisz, and after the race ended, the GOAT bounded down the stairs at the CHI Health Center to give Kalisz a hug.
“I knew Michael was coming," Kalisz said. "He texted me this afternoon, 'Good luck.' I had a feeling that he was going to be in some VIP area, so I thought the chances were high that I would see him after the race.
"Michael has worked with me since I'm 13 on strategy for that race and, outside of Jay Litherland, he is the other person I would call my main training partner in my entire career. It's awesome to see him at trials and awesome to see how well he's doing right now.”
Kalisz said he will hear from Phelps at the times he really needs it, like when he needs a kick in the butt.
Litherland, who is Kalisz’s training partner at the University of Georgia, took second in the race. The pair will represent the United States in the 400 IM at the Olympics.
The third-place finisher, Carson Foster, also trains with Kalisz and Litherland. The top two finishers at the swimming trials qualify for the Olympics. Foster missed out on making the Olympic team in this race by .53 seconds.
Kalisz is 27, which is considered older for the individual medley, an endurance race that requires 100 meters in all four swimming strokes. Foster is just 20. After Litherland and Kalisz hugged in celebration, they stopped and turned to comfort Foster.
“I look up and I see Jay touch, and I forget the entire race," Kalisz said. "That's one of my best buddies; that's my training partner. It means the world to go 1-2 with him.
"As far as Carson, Carson has nothing to worry about. He's one of the most talented kids that I've come across. He's clearly got three strokes that are better than me. I think he just needs to, as he gets older, really kind of re-strategize how his race goes.
"I was really lucky to have Michael in my upbringing (and) kind of go over those things, and the 400 IM is the ultimate race where that counts more than really who is better at what stroke.”