UPDATED: Lilly King nearly blew it in the 200-meter breaststroke semifinals, claiming the eighth and final spot for Friday’s finals with a time of 2:23.81 at the FINA World Championships in Budapest.
That made the Evansville native and Indiana University swimmer just one-hundredth of a second faster than Great Britain’s Joceylyn–Kate Ulyett in Thursday’s semifinals.
King’s Russian rival Yulia Efimova will be the top seed after rallying from sixth place in her semi heat to post the top time of 2:21.45. King’s USA teammate, Bethany Galat, had the second fastest time of 2:21.86, followed by Australia’s Taylor McKeown (2:22.10), China’s Jinglin Shi (2:23.17), Canada’s Kierra Smith (2:23.18), Spain’s Jessica Vall (2:23.49) and Great Britain’s Molly Renshaw (2:23.51) with King another three-hundredths of a second slower.
An anticipated showdown between rival breaststroke swimmers Lilly King of Evansville and Russia’s Yulia Efimova turned out to be a dud early Thursday morning.
Paired next to each other in Lanes 4 and 5 in a 200-meter heat, King jumped out to an early lead and only briefly faltered when she was overtaken by Japan’s Reona Aoki after 150 meters. However, the Indiana University sophomore powered through the final 50, finishing in 2:24.28 to win the heat at the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
It was a nice and easy swim for King, allowing her to conserve energy for the semifinals later today with the finals slated for Friday. King’s personal best in the 200 breast is 2:21.83.
Czech swimmer Martina Moravcikova (2:25.26) and China’s Jinglin Shi (2:25.39) finished second and third behind King. Efimova was fourth best (2:25.63) in the heat, but only 11th overall.
In the semifinals later today, Great Britain’s Molly Renshaw will be top-seeded after a 2:24.03 clocking. King will be second followed by Australia’s Taylor McKeown (2:34.31), Spain’s Jessica Vall (2:24.41), USA’s Bethany Galat (2:24.56), Canada’s Kierra Smith (2:24.57), Denmark’s Rikke Pedersen (2:24.69) and Moravcikova.
Efimova will be in the second semifinal behind Canada’s Ashley McGregor (2:25.31) and Shi. The second semi will include Aoki (2:25.94), South Korea’s Suyeon Back (2:26.45), Great Britain’s Jocelyn Kate Ulyett (2:26.50), Japan’s Sotomi Suzuki (2:26.78) and Finland’s Jenna Laukkanen (2:28.59).
Halfway through the world championships, King already has a pair of gold medals and two world records, winning the showdown with Efimoa for the 100 breaststroke title and then being part of the top 4×100 mixed individual medley relay.
The world record for the 200 breast is 2:19.10 and its expected that King and Efimova will be bearing down on that standard by the time the starter gun fires in the finals.