The Phelps factor: Kalisz claims return trip to Olympics

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Even though he retired from swimming five years ago, Michael Phelps’ impact was felt on the opening night of the U.S. Olympic trials.

Chase Kalisz, who says Phelps is like a big brother, claimed another trip to the Olympics by winning the 400-meter individual medley Sunday.

A masked-up Phelps cheered him on from the socially distanced stands, then strolled onto the deck to give his former training partner at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club a hug.

“Michael is very supportive,” Kalisz said. “He’ll give me a kick in the (butt) if I need it, and sometimes I need it. Michael has been an older brother to me in my life. I remember interacting with Michael when I was 6 years old — and here we are 21 years later.”

Phelps was impressed with Kalisz’s performance.

“His back half was great,” Phelps told The Associated Press. “I thought maybe he would go a touch faster. But he’s right there. He took care of what he needed to do.”

The Americans got some new blood on women’s side: 19-year-old Emma Weyant, in her first trials, held off three Olympic veterans to win a thrilling 400 IM.

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