The Phelps factor: Kalisz claims return trip to Olympics

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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