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Chase Kalisz wins at U.S. Open in Olympic Trials preview

Chase Kalisz earns the top spot in the 200IM heat at Greensboro's US Open stop after holding off Jay Litherland to finish first in just under two minutes.

Ryan Lochte is on the comeback. Carson Foster is on the rise. But Chase Kalisz is still the U.S.’ best individual medley swimmer.

Kalisz, who swept the IMs at the 2017 World Championships, won his 200m IM heat at the U.S. Open in 1:59.72 on Friday.

Kalisz, racing in Greensboro, N.C., bettered the 19-year-old Foster’s time by one tenth and 36-year-old Lochte, who is coming off an August appendectomy, by 1.33 seconds.

Foster swam in San Antonio, while Lochte was in Sarasota, Fla. The meet is split into nine different sites to limit travel amid the coronavirus pandemic. Results are combined.

The U.S. Open, the most significant domestic meet in eight months, is an opportunity in some events to see where things stand with seven months until the Olympic Trials. The top two per individual event in Omaha qualify for the Tokyo Games.

The men’s 200m IM is shaping up to be among the most anticipated races.

After Michael Phelps retired, Kalisz, a former Phelps training partner, was the fastest American in the event in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

But younger swimmers like Foster, a University of Texas freshman, and 21-year-old Michael Andrew (not racing the U.S. Open) closed the gap last year. And then Lochte, the world-record holder, returned from his second suspension since the Rio Olympics to rank fifth in the nation in the event in 2019.

Lochte hopes to become the oldest U.S. Olympic male swimmer in history. The 200m IM appears to be his best chance to qualify for a fifth Olympics, but as Friday showed, his work is cut out.

The U.S. Open continues later Friday and Saturday. A TV and stream schedule is here.

In other Friday morning events, 2017 World bronze medalist Madisyn Cox won the women’s 200m IM in 2:10.49. Torri Huske, a 17-year-old Olympic butterfly hopeful, swam a personal-best 2:11.18 to move into sixth in the U.S. rankings since the start of 2019.

Kathleen Baker, who clocked 2:12.97 on Friday, tops those rankings with a 2:08.75 from February.

Gretchen Walsh, another 17-year-old Olympic hopeful, lowered her 50m freestyle personal best to 24.65. She ranks fourth in the U.S. since the start of 2019.

She trails Rio Olympians Simone Manuel (24.05) and Abbey Weitzeil (24.47) and Erika Brown (24.57), none of whom are racing at the U.S. Open.

On Thursday night, 15-year-old Bella Sims won the women’s 800m free in 8:27.01, taking nearly nine seconds off her personal best and moving from 18th in the U.S. since the start of 2019 to fifth. Katie Ledecky (8:10.70) and Leah Smith (8:16.33) top those rankings.

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