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Tokyo bound: Kalisz claims 1st spot on US Olympic swim team

Chase Kalisz is heading back to the Olympics after winning the 400-meter individual medley on the opening night of the U.S. swimming trials Sunday.

Cheered on from the stands by Michael Phelps, Kalisz trailed top qualifier Carson Foster at the midway point of the race after the butterfly and backstroke legs.

But Kalisz surged to the lead on the breaststroke and held it to the end through the freestyle, winning in 4 minutes, 9.09 seconds.

Chase Kalisz hugs Jay Litherland after winning Men's 400 Individual Medley during wave 2 of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials on Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Omaha, Neb. (AP PhotoJeff Roberson)

Another former University of Georgia swimmer, Jay Litherland, tracked down Foster over the final 25 meters to claim the expected second spot on the Olympic team in 4:10.33.

Foster settled for third — out of the Olympics — in 4:10.86.

That ensured a couple of veterans were the first swimmers to claim spots on the squad that will head to the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games with high expectations.

Carson Foster participates in the Men's 400 Individual Medley during wave 2 of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials on Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Omaha, Neb. (AP PhotoCharlie Neibergall)

Kalisz took the silver in the 400 IM at the Rio Olympics, while Litherland finished fifth in that event.

Kalisz swam over to give Litherland a hug after seeing they had finished 1-2. As Kalisz climbed out of the temporary pool, a masked-up Phelps was there to greet him with another embrace.

The two were once training partners at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club.

Carson Foster participates in the Men's 400 Individual Medley during wave 2 of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials on Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Omaha, Neb. (AP PhotoCharlie Neibergall)

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Torri Huske participates in the Women's 100 Butterfly during wave 2 of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials on Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Omaha, Neb. (AP PhotoCharlie Neibergall)