A look at the opening night of finals at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha, live on NBC, NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app at 8 p.m. ET …
Four years ago, Chase Kalisz was the world’s best all-around swimmer. After a tough-to-swallow Olympic 400m individual medley silver in Rio, he swept the individual medleys at the 2017 World Championships, capping an ascent from his childhood days training with Michael Phelps at North Baltimore Aquatic Club.
Kalisz, spurred by motivating words from Phelps after that Rio defeat, looked set to break host-nation hearts at the Tokyo Games. The 400m IM is in the first finals session at the Olympics. Japan’s biggest male swim star — Daiya Seto — contests the event.
But Kalisz struggled at 2019 Worlds, missing the 400m IM final. He took bronze in the 200m IM, but 1.22 seconds slower than his winning time in 2017.
He’s no sure thing to make the Olympic team — which requires a top-two finish in Sunday night’s final. Kalisz ranks third in the nation in the 400m IM since the start of 2019, behind training partner Jay Litherland, the world silver medalist, and 19-year-old Carson Foster.
A look at tonight’s races:
Men’s 400m Individual Medley FINAL — 8:04 p.m.
Foster, Kalisz and Litherland took the top three spots in Sunday morning’s preliminary heats. They are expected to do it again in the final. The order is what’s in question. It looks like an Olympic medal contender is going to miss the team. Foster, who started breaking Phelps’ national age-group records at 10, took .63 off his personal best for the fastest time in prelims. Litherland ranks second in the world since the start of 2019. Foster and Kalisz are Nos. 5 and 6. Kalisz’s prelim time was his fastest overall since 2018.
Women’s 100m Butterfly Semifinals — 8:17 p.m.
Eight fastest from two semis qualify for Monday’s final. Rio Olympian Kelsi Dahlia led the way in the prelims with her fastest time since 2018. All of the other contenders also easily advanced, including 16-year-old Claire Curzan and 18-year-old Torri Huske.
Men’s 400m Freestyle FINAL — 8:33 p.m.
Potentially the U.S.’ weakest event. Only Zane Grothe has the Olympic qualifying standard of 3:46.78, but he missed the final. The top seed is 21-year-old Florida Gator Kieran Smith, who clocked 3:48.06 in the prelims. It’s not clear what happens if one or zero swimmers hits the standard in the final. The U.S. has never failed to put two swimmers, let alone one, into an Olympic event since the fields were changed from a maximum of three swimmers per nation to two in 1984.
Women’s 400m Individual Medley FINAL — 8:52 p.m.
Four of the pre-meet contenders broke 4:40 in the prelims, led by Hali Flickinger. Flickinger is the U.S.’ top woman in the 200m butterfly who came into the meet ranked fourth in the nation this year in the 400m IM. Melanie Margalis, the fastest American since the start of 2019 by nearly three seconds, was third in prelims behind Emma Weyant.
Men’s 100m Breaststroke Semifinals — 9:08 p.m.
Michael Andrew, who turned pro seven years ago at age 14, broke the American record in the prelims. The four fastest Americans in history all advanced to the semifinals — Andrew, Kevin Cordes, Andrew Wilson and Cody Miller.
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