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Team U.S.A.’s Chase Kalisz finished the 400-meter IM on Sunday, earning America’s first gold medal of the Tokyo Olympic Games. Joining the honors was American swimmer Jay Litherland, who earned the event’s silver medal.
Kalisz’s winning time clocked in at 4:09.42, with Litherland trailing at 4:10.28. Both medals won at the swimming event will hopefully kickstart Team U.S.A., which has had an uncharacteristically sluggish start to the Olympics.
Expectations were thin on winning any of the Day 1 events, and indeed, Team U.S.A won zero medals on Day 1 of the Summer Games for the first time since 1972. On Day 2, American athletics began ramping up production on the medal count, following up the swimming team’s success with eight awards, climbing to a total of 10 medals ahead of Day 3.
“It means the world,” said the gold-winning Kalisz. “This is the last thing that I really wanted to accomplish in my swimming career. It was something that was a dream of mine since as long as I could remember.”
As Team U.S.A. swimming embraces a new generation of Americans swimmers to take up the mantle left by retired Olympics legend Michael Phelps, 27-year-old Chase Kalisz’s exceptional performance in Tokyo proves that Phelps’ legacy on the world stage has a good shot of carrying on. No strokes of luck needed.
“He was a little brother to me and still is,” said Phelps, reflecting on his friendship with Kalisz. “I love him to death.”