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Neighbors, family of Bel Air's Chase Kalisz celebrate his silver medal win in Rio

Connor Kalisz, younger brother of Olympic silver medalist swimmer Chase Kalisz, talks about Chase's accomplishment outside the family's home in Bel Air Monday afternoon. (David Anderson, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Connor Kalisz did not get to go to Rio de Janeiro to see his older brother, Chase, compete in the Olympics and win a silver medal in swimming, but he did watch the second-place finish live on television.

Connor, 20, was at his family's Bel Air home Saturday night, watching with some friends as his 22-year-old brother competed in the 400-meter individual medley and came away with a silver medal.

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"It's definitely exciting to see," Connor said Monday. "He's been at the top level for so long, and he's definitely worked for it, so it's cool to see it all pay off."

The Kalisz home on a cul-de-sac in the Brentwood Park neighborhood was decorated with a "Team USA" banner when a reporter visited. Chase Kalisz finished his race just behind the gold medal winner, Kosuke Hagino of Japan.

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Connor said he expected his brother would come in first, based on watching him swim earlier in the day.

"I thought after his morning swim he definitely could have gotten a gold medal," Connor said. "He just didn't have enough at the end."

Chase Kalisz talks about winning an Olympic silver medal and talking to Michael Phelps after the race. (Childs Walker/Baltimore Sun video)

Chase is one of four siblings who are competitive swimmers going back to childhood, but Chase has been the only one to make the U.S. Olympic team.

His older sister, Courtney, 26, swam for the University of Southern California and tried out for the Olympics in 2004 and 2008 but did not make the U.S. team.

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Chase also swims for the University of Georgia, where he is a two-time NCAA champion and record holder in the 400 IM. Connor is on the swim team at Florida State University, where he is going into his junior year at FSU.

The youngest Kalisz sibling, Cassidy, 17, is being recruited by various Division I schools, Connor said.

Connor noted he and Cassidy swim more for fun than to get to the Olympics. Both tried out for the team this year but did not make it.

"We have goals to take it as far as we can," he said.

Connor, who graduated from Fallston High School in 2014, said he is focused on finishing college and finding a job. He is studying sports management and communications.

Silver medalist Chase Kalisz of the United States and gold medal medalist Kosuke Hagino of Japan embrace during the medal ceremony for the 400 meter individual medley at the Rio de Janiero Olympics Saturday night.
Silver medalist Chase Kalisz of the United States and gold medal medalist Kosuke Hagino of Japan embrace during the medal ceremony for the 400 meter individual medley at the Rio de Janiero Olympics Saturday night. (Adam Pretty / Getty Images)

Connor said his parents, Mike and Cathy, are in Rio. He said they spent time after Chase's race giving interviews to national media shows and checking out the city.

"They're exploring," he said. "They're having fun, just taking it all in."

A handful of the Kalisz family's Brentwood Park neighbors, who have known Chase and his siblings since they were children, shared their excitement Monday over the silver medal win.

"Chase worked his entire life to do what he did," Beth Dempsey said.

Dempsey and her husband, who live next door to the Kaliszes, returned home from vacation at 9 p.m. Saturday, three minutes before the men's 400 IM final started in Rio.

"We have to watch it live!" she recalled saying.

Neighbors Jeff and Kim Orser also saw the television broadcast.

"We're all saying, 'Come on, come on, come on!'" Jeff Orser said.

Dempsey and her neighbors discussed getting the name of a local street renamed in Chase Kalisz' honor, similar to the Town of Bel Air renaming the section of Pennsylvania Avenue at Main Street "Kimmie Way" to honor Olympic figure skater Kimmie Meissner, of Bel Air.

Meissner placed sixth during the 2006 winter games in Torino, Italy, but won the world championship the following year

Neighbor Susan Dewlin, who moved to the neighborhood shortly before Courtney Kalisz was born, recalled seeing the children getting up early on dark winter mornings to go to swim practice and not coming home until late at night.

"They've worked so hard; they've dedicated their lives to this," Dewlin said.

Janine York, 22, grew up with the Kalisz siblings and said her mother used to baby-sit them.

"I'm like the fifth sibling, we did everything together," she said.

York said she knew Chase is typically strong in the second half of the 400 IM.

"We were waiting for him to come back [and win the race]," she recalled. "We were screaming and cheering him on like crazy."

Chase was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome when he was 8 years old, a disorder of the nervous system that causes significant weakening of the muscles. He spent a week in a medically-induced coma, but eventually recovered and got back to the pool, The Baltimore Sun reported previously.

The neighbors still remember when Chase and his family were dealing with the illness. York said the episode contributed to her interest in nursing.

York graduated from Johns Hopkins University in July with a degree in nursing. She noted she completed her nursing program around the same time Chase competed in the Olympics.

"It's kind full circle," she said. "It's special to see."

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