Lilly King

Lilly King (born February 10, 1997)[3] is an American swimmer. At the 2016 Summer Olympics she won the gold medal in the 100 meter breaststroke competition and also won a gold medal in the women's 4 × 100 m medley relay, in which she swam the breaststroke leg. She is the current world record holder in 100-metre and 50-metre breaststroke (long course).

Lilly Kingdom
King in 2018
Personal information
National teamUnited States
Born (1997-02-10) February 10, 1997[1]
Evansville, Indiana[1]
Height5 ft 8.5 in (174 cm)[2]
Weight154 lb (70 kg)[2]
ClubFJ Reitz High School Panthers
Evansville, Indiana
Newburgh Sea Creatures
Newburgh, Indiana
College teamIndiana University

Early life

King was born and raised in Evansville, Indiana, the daughter of Mark and Ginny King. Mark ran track and cross-country at Indiana State University and Ginny swam for Eastern Kentucky University and Illinois State University. King's younger brother Alex is a walk-on swimmer at the University of Michigan.[4] King attended FJ Reitz High School, where the school's swim team shared Lloyd Pool with five other teams.[4] The lanes at Lloyd Pool were often crowded with swimmers below King's ability, so in order to help compensate, King added several morning practices a week with the local masters team and joined a competitive swim team called the Newburgh Sea Creatures.[4]



King attended Indiana University Bloomington, where she competed for the Indiana Hoosiers swimming and diving team.[3]

At the 2016 NCAA finals, her freshman year, she was crowned the NCAA Champion in the 100 yard breaststroke (56.85) and 200 yard breaststroke (2:03.59). The performance established King as one of the best short course yards breaststroke swimmers in history, setting the American, NCAA, NCAA Meet, U.S. Open, Indiana school, Big Ten, and Georgia Tech Pool records in winning the NCAA titles.[3][5] That same freshman year she was named the Big Ten Swimmer of the Year, earned four All-America honors, First-Team All-Big Ten, and Big Ten Freshman of the Year.[3]

2016 Summer Olympics

At the 2016 US Olympic trials in Omaha, King won both the 100 meter breaststroke and the 200 meter breaststroke, qualifying for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

In the 100-meter breaststroke heats, King finished 1st with a time of 1:05.78 and qualified for the semifinals. There she again finished first with a time of 1:05.70. The next fastest swimmer was Yuliya Yefimova from Russia, the reigning world champion who had previously served a 16-month doping suspension for failing a 2013 drug test. Yefimova also failed a drug test in 2016, but with no research on how long the drug stayed in a person's system, she was not banned or given a suspension.[6] As King looked on from the ready room, where swimmers gather before they race, Yefimova won her semifinal and wagged her index finger. After posting the fastest time in the 100 m breaststroke semifinals, King expressed distaste. In a post-race interview with NBC, King said, "You wave your finger No. 1 and you’ve been caught drug cheating? I’m not a fan." [7] King went on to win the Olympic gold medal in the 100-meter breaststroke, setting an Olympic record of 1:04.93 in the process.[8]

In the 200-meter breaststroke heats, King finished 15th with a time of 2:25.89 and qualified for the semifinals. She finished 7th in her semifinal with a time of 2:24.59. She did not qualify for the final.[9]

USA Today said King and Yefimova's rivalry "was heightened by the backstory, the international rivalry, and the high stakes of a final event. It was the Olympics at its very, very best."[10] Sporting News noted the two "joined the list of the hottest U.S.-Soviet/Russian head-to-heads in sports history."[11] As a result of her approach to the 2016 Summer Olympics and her rivalry with Yefimova, King developed a reputation as being "friendly but fiery, with no filter and no apologies."[4] Some journalists criticized her treatment of Yefimova.[12][13]

2017 World Championships

At the 2017 US Nationals, the qualification meet for the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, King swept the breaststroke events. She won the 50-meter breaststroke with a time of 29.66, the 100-meter breaststroke with 1:04.95, and the 200-meter breaststroke with 2:21.83.

In her first event, King won the 100-meter breaststroke with a world record time of 1:04.13.[14] King's American teammate Katie Meili finished second and Yulia Efimova touched third. The race was highly anticipated because Efimova had nearly broken the former world record and mockingly wagged her finger during the semifinal.[15]


On September 11, 2018, the city of Evansville approved the new Deaconess Aquatic Center, which is to replace Lloyd Pool, within which the facility's competition pool is to be named in honor of King, who personally pushed for the project.[16]

Personal best times

Event Time Location Date Notes
50 m breaststroke (long course) 29.40 Budapest July 30, 2017 WR
100 m breaststroke (long course) 1:04.13 Budapest July 25, 2017 WR
200 m breaststroke (long course) 2:21.83 Indianapolis June 28, 2017
100 yd breaststroke (short course) 55.73 Austin, TX March 22, 2019 WR
200 yd breaststroke (short course) 2:02.60 Columbus, Ohio March 17, 2018 WR

World records

Type Distance Event Time Meet Location Date Age Ref
WR 100 m (long course) Breaststroke 1:04.13 2017 World Aquatics Championships Budapest, Hungary July 25, 2017 20 [17]
WR 50 m (long course) Breaststroke 29.40 2017 World Aquatics Championships Budapest, Hungary July 30, 2017 20 [18]

See also


  1. "National Team Bios – Lilly King". USA Swimming. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  2. "Lilly King Bios, Stats, and Results". Sports Reference. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  3. "Lilly King Bio". Indiana Hoosiers. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  4. Forde, Pat (August 8, 2016). "Lilly King's improbable journey to the finger-wagging frontline of swimming's Cold War". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  5. Neidigh, Lauren (March 18, 2016). "Lilly King smashes 57 second barrier to set 100 breast American record". Swimswam. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  6. Rogers, Martin (August 8, 2016). "U.S. swimmer Lilly King calls out Russian drug cheat with strong words, finger wag". USA Today. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  7. Crouse, Karen (August 8, 2016). "American Lilly King Makes Statement With Olympic Record in 100-Meter Breaststroke". The New York Times. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  8. Woods, David (August 8, 2016). "Lilly King sets Olympic record in winning 100 breaststroke, Russian nemesis". Indianapolis Star.
  9. "Lilly King, Molly Hannis do not advance to 200m breaststroke final". August 11, 2016.
  10. Wilder, Charlotte (August 9, 2016). "Lilly King's feisty rivalry with Yulia Efimova is the Olympics at its very best". USA Today. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  11. "U.S. vs. Russia: Lilly King-Yulia Efimova adds to history of heated rivalries". Sporting News. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  12. "In vilifying Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova, Americans are splashing murky waters". The Washington Post. August 10, 2016. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
  13. "Efimova is a poor poster child for Russian scandal". Associated Press. August 10, 2016. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
  14. "Lilly King Surges to 1:04.1 to Take Down 100 Breast World Record". SwimSwam. July 25, 2017. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  15. "King Gets The Last Laugh Over Efimova... For Now". SwimSwam. July 25, 2017. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  17. "17th FINA World Championships Women's 100m Breaststroke Final Results". July 25, 2017. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  18. "17th FINA World Championships Women's 50m Breaststroke Final Results". July 30, 2017. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
Preceded by

Rūta Meilutytė
Women's 50-meter breaststroke
world record-holder (long course)

July 30, 2017 – present
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Rūta Meilutytė
Women's 100-meter breaststroke
world record-holder (long course)

July 25, 2017 – present
Succeeded by

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