"The ultimate goal is Rio," swimmer Chase Kalisz told us in 2013.
Turns out, he meant it.
On Sunday, the Bel Air native won the men's 400-meter individual medley final at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials in Omaha, Nebraska. He'll be traveling to Rio, Brazil to make his first Olympic berth.
Kalisz has trained at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club since 2000—and, more recently, in Scottsdale, Arizona—with mentor Michael Phelps and coach Bob Bowman.
"Training at NBAC with the greatest swimmer of all time, and having him as my mentor and role model, has been probably the best environment for me," Kalisz said. "I’ve always dreamed about racing and swimming with him. I never thought that would happen to me."
The 22-year-old, who graduated from Fallston High School, beat 2012 Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte in the event. Lochte said he pulled his groin in the preliminary in the morning, which affected his breaststroke leg.
When Kalisz clinched the victory, alongside fellow University of Georgia alum Jay Litherland, Phelps pumped his fists in the air and gave Kalisz a congratulatory hug after the race.
"I'm so happy for Chase," Phelps told NBC. "I was crying when I was hugging him. For him to be able to do that was a very special moment for me, and we kept the 400 IM in the NBAC family."
Next up, Kalisz is set to take on Phelps in the 200-meter IM and 200-meter butterfly and also to swim the 200-meter breaststroke. As for living up to his mentor's success? Kalisz is realistic but confident.
"No one will do what he did for a very long time," Kalisz said. "I kind of like to take things in my own time and just go out and do my best. I think that’s the best way for me to think of all of this."