2019 FINA World Championships Predictions: Lilly King vs. Yulia Efimova Round Three in 100 Breast

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Editorial content for the 2019 World Championships coverage is sponsored by FORM Swim Goggles. See full event coverage. Follow FORM on Instagram at @FORMSwim #swimwithform FORM Swim-Logo

USA’s Lilly King has had the upper hand over her Russian rival Yulia Efimova ever since King won the gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games. King and Efimova have been the subject of one of the most well-known rivalries in the sport over the years. King took down Efimova in Rio and again a year later in Budapest, where she set the world record at 1:04.13. King and Efimova currently sit first and third all-time in the 100 breast with recently retired Ruta Meilutyte splitting them, and King has always seemed to one-up her Russian rival.

Efimova currently sits second in the world rankings for 2019 as she and King seem to be head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the world. Efimova has won a medal at four of the last five Worlds in this event, winning bronze in 2017, gold in 2015, silver in 2013 and silver in 2009. She has been a mainstay on the world stage the last decade, but has been surrounded by controversy. She has failed two doping tests in her career, serving a 16-month suspension in 2014. She controversially avoided a suspension in 2016 for testing for a banned substance and was able to compete at the Olympic Games, winning two silver medals. This led to the now-famous finger wag that King showed after the 100 breast semifinals in Rio.

The animosity between the two has since died down, but they still bring out the best in each other. King just out-touched Efimova at the FINA Champions Series in May as the two set season best times. King is again the favorite to repeat in 2019 but it won’t be easy. Could their competitiveness push the winner to the first 1:03 in history? King holds the world record at 1:04.13 and has shown the last few months that she is in much better shape than two years ago. She finally swam a 55 in yards this March and also showed 200 speed with a 2:21 at the FINA Champions Series. A 1:03 is not out of the question.

The bronze medal is wide open, especially with both Katie Meili and Meilutyte retiring this year. Currently, Russia’s Anna Belousova, who had a lackluster NCAA meet for Texas A&M, is ranked third in the world with a 1:06.34 from April. Belousova could have been saving a full rest at NCAAs for the Russian Trials, thus explaining her 11th place finish in the 100. Belousova will be making her Worlds debut this year so how will she handle swimming on the big stage?

South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker has had herself a very successful last 15 months. She won golds in both the 100 and 200 breast at last year’s Commonwealth Games, and also recently secured two golds at the World University Games. Schoenmaker was a 1:06.42 in Naples last week, placing her fourth in the world. If she was presumably using WUGs as a tuneup meet for Worlds, then she could be in for a possible 1:05 in Gwangju. South Africa has never won a medal at the World Championships on the women’s side and Schoenmaker could make history for her country.

Japan’s Reona Aoki, who scored a 1:05 in April 2018, could also be in line for a medal. Aoki won the bronze at Pan Pacs last summer in front of the home Tokyo crowd. Aoki is currently fifth in the world for 2019 and will be searching for her first medal at the world level.

Current Records:

World Record: 1:04.13, Lilly King, USA – 2017
Championships Record: 1:04.13, Lilly King, USA –  2017
American Record: 1:04.13, Lilly King – 2017

2017 World Champion: Lilly King, USA, 1:04.13
2018 Virtual World Champion: Lilly King, USA, 1:05.44 (Pan Pacs)
2019 Fastest Times:

  1. 1:05.13, Lilly King, USA
  2. 1:05.51, Yulia Efimova, RUS
  3. 1:06.34, Anna Belousova, RUS
  4. 1:06.42, Tatjana Schoenmaker, RSA
  5. 1:06.44, Reona Aoki, JPN
  6. 1:06.54, Kierra Smith, CAN
  7. 1:06.67, Jessica Vall, ESP
  8. 1:06.81, Satomi Suzuki, JPN

*Annie Lazor was a 1:06.03 in May but will not be swimming this event at the World Championships.

Swimming World’s team of Andy RossDan D’AddonaDavid RiederDiana Pimer and Taylor Covington will be selecting their medalists for the World Championships in each event. Read below who everybody picked.

Andy’s Picks:

  1. Lilly King
  2. Yulia Efimova
  3. Tatjana Schoenmaker

Dan’s Picks:

  1. Lilly King
  2. Yulia Efimova
  3. Reona Aoki

David’s Picks:

  1. Lilly King
  2. Yulia Efimova
  3. Reona Aoki

Diana’s Picks:

  1. Lilly King
  2. Yulia Efimova
  3. Reona Aoki

Taylor’s Picks:

  1. Lilly King
  2. Yulia Efimova
  3. Reona Aoki

2019 FINA World Championships Predictions:

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

Share and Tweet This Story
Wordpress Social Share Plugin powered by Ultimatelysocial