Lochte and Kalisz line up for first showdown of U.S. trials

Sun Jun 26, 2016 2:33pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) - Newcomer Chase Kalisz edged Olympic champion Ryan Lochte to register the top qualifying time in the men's 400 meters individual medley on Sunday and set up the first showdown of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials.

Kalisz, who trains with Michael Phelps under coach Bob Bowman in Arizona, woke up a sleepy Sunday morning soldout crowd at the CenturyLink Center when he beat Lochte to the wall in a time of four minutes, 11.86 seconds.

Lochte, the 2012 London Olympic champion who is more familiar with taking on his rival Phelps in the stamina event, will instead have to contend with the 22-year-old Kalisz, who is bidding for a place on his first Olympic team.

The 31-year-old American has rarely raced the event since grabbing gold in London but looked ready for the challenge coming home just 0.12 seconds back of Kalisz. He warned later that he had more in the tank for the evening final.

The men's 400m IM final will be the highlight of the opening day of the week-long competition with the top two finishers earning tickets to the Rio Olympics in August.

"My first race is always the worst one but that was smooth -- just a solid swim. I didn't press anything to full potential so I think there is a little juice left," Lochte said. "There has to be."

Olympic spots will also be up for grabs in the women's 400m IM and men's 400m freestyle.

Sarah Henry will take the top qualifying time of 4:36.93 into the women's 400 IM final but will be hard pressed to earn an Olympic berth in a tough field that includes Olympic silver medalist Elizabeth Beisel and Maya DiRado, the world silver medalist.   Continued...

Jun 26, 2016; Omaha, NE, USA; Chase Kalisz during the men's 400m individual medley preliminary heats in the U.S. Olympic swimming team trials at CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports