Evansville’s Lilly King will be favored to claim her third gold medal in Sunday’s finals in the 50-meter breaststroke after posting the fastest semifinal time of 29.60.
The clocking allowed King to improve her own American record by another six-hundredths of a second. The Indiana University swimmer posted a 29.66 at nationals in June in Indianapolis to beat a mark that had been held by Jessica Hardy (29.80). That also allowed King to come to Budapest with the fastest time of 2017.
As expected, her top threat will come from Russian rival Yulia Efimova, who won Saturday’s first semifinal in 29.73.
King set a world record in winning the 100 meter race on Tuesday. On Thursday, Efimova won the 200-meter race to become the first woman to claim 11 total medals in her career at the FINA World Swimming Championships.
This is King’s first appearance at worlds.
USA’s Katie Meili (30.12) was third followed by Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte (30.40), Jennie Johansson (30.41), Italy’s Arianna Castiglioni (30.46), Great Britain’s Sarah Vasey (30.46) and Canada’s Rachel Nicol (30.49).
King competed against Johansson, Castiglioni and Nicol in the second semifinals.
King won the 100-meter breaststroke race on Tuesday by shattering the world record with a swim of 104.13. That beat Meilutyte’s record of 1:04.35 set in 2013.
Efimova, who won bronze in the 100, took gold in the 200 in a race that saw King just miss the medals stand with a fourth-place finish.
So on Sunday, the two swimmers who have been feuding since Rio last summer when King won gold in the 100 while setting an Olympic record, will have another showdown.
The relationship appears to have slightly cooled since Brazil, although the fact that Efimova has twice failed drug tests for using performance-enhancing substances still raises suspicions. Still, King complimented Efimova for nearly tying the world record in the 100 in the semifinals. Then King went out in the finals and broke the record.
Sunday will give King at least a shot at a third gold medal of the met, and possibly third world record, since she was part of the USA’s winning mixed 4×100 medley relay team. The Reitz High graduate also could be chosen to swim in the finals of the women’s 4×100 medley relay since it is scheduled six events after the 50 breast.
Sunday’s action begin at approximately around 12:30 p.m CT.
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