U.S. Olympic Trials, Day I Prelims: Carson Foster and Chase Kalisz Shine in 400 Individual Medley

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. Olympic Trials, Day I Prelims: Carson Foster and Chase Kalisz Shine in 400 Individual Medley

The men’s 400-meter individual medley is the traditional opener of the United States Olympic Trials, and this year’s edition of the event offered immediate intrigue. Would Chase Kalisz rekindle his past excellence? What would rising star Carson Foster produce? Would Jay Litherland continue to be a consistent presence?

As action got underway inside the CHI Health Center, following a one-year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Foster and Kalisz offered a strong start to the competition with a pair of 4:10 performances. Foster, who just completed his freshman campaign at the University of Texas snared the top seed for the final in 4:10.50, with Kalisz right behind in 4:10.61.

Racing in the first of the circle-seeded heats, Foster and Kalisz engaged in a game of cat-and-mouse, with Foster pushing the front half of the race and Kalisz relying on his trademark back half. Foster went through the opening butterfly leg in 55.80 and was 1:58.43 at the midway point, where Kalisz touched in 2:01.30. Behind a breaststroke split of 1:09.35, Kalisz narrowed his deficit and set himself up for a strong freestyle leg, an effort of 59.96, compared to the 1:01.00 of Foster.

Behind the speed flashed by Foster and Kalisz, Litherland won the last heat, going 4:13.28 to claim the third seed. Litherland, the silver medalist in the 400 medley at the 2019 World Championships, finished just ahead of Bobby Finke, who recorded a mark of 4:13.53. In fifth was Jake Foster, who went 4:15.26 to join his top-seeded brother in the final.

Look for Kalisz to press his front half more during the evening session, as the veteran seeks a return trip to the Olympic Games after picking up the silver medal at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. With a personal-best this morning, how much quicker can Foster be? The 19-year-old has long been tabbed as a future star for Team USA and is now within reach of his first Olympic bid.


1. Carson Foster, 4:10.50
2. Chase Kalisz, 4:10.61
3. Jay Litherland, 4:13.28
4. Bobby Finke, 4:13.53
5. Jake Foster, 4:15.26
6. Gunnar Bentz, 4:16.61
7. David Johnston, 4:16.74
8. Sam Stewart, 4:17.60