Lilly King Fights Off Yulia Efimova Surge To Retain 100m Breaststroke Title; Russian Moves Level With Jones’ Medal Haul (RACE VIDEO)

lilly-king-martina-carraro 100-breast-finals-2019-world-championships
Lilly King. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

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World Swimming Championships

Gwangju, Day 3 finals

Women’s 100m breaststroke

Lilly King is never shy about giving you an opinion but tonight she let her swimming do the talking as she retained her 100m breaststroke title after once more eclipsing familiar foe Yulia Efimova.

The American turned first at halfway on 30.29secs and although the Russian seemed to be on the brink of overhauling King, she fought back to touch in 1:04.93 with Efimova second on 1:05.49.

With the victory, King became the fourth woman to have claimed two 100m breaststroke titles while Efimova equaled 2008 Olympic champion Leisel Jones’ five-strong medal haul in this event.

Italian Martina Carraro won bronze in 1:06.36 after turning in seventh only to unleash a second 50 of 34.79, a split bettered only by King.

The American’s time was the fastest in the world in 2019 and sits sixth all-suits all-time, .80secs behind the world record she set at the 2017 worlds.

Top times all-suits

1 1:04.13 WORLDS17 King, Lilly, 1997, USA
2 1:04.35 WORLDS13 Meilutyte, Ruta, 1997, LTU
3 1:04.36 WORLDS17 Efimova*, Yulia, 1992, RUS
4 1:04.45 USOPNAUG Hardy, Jessica, 1987, USA
5 1:04.84 WORLDS09 Soni, Rebecca, 1987, USA
6 1:05.03 WORLDS17 Meili, Katie, 1991, USA

1 KING Lilly United States of America USA 1:04.93
2 EFIMOVA Yuliya Russian Federation RUS 1:05.49
3 CARRARO Martina Italy ITA 1:06.36
4 AOKI Reona Japan JPN 1:06.40
5 YU Jingyao People's Republic of China CHN 1:06.56
6 SCHOENMAKER Tatjana South Africa RSA 1:06.60
7 RENSHAW Molly Great Britain GBR 1:06.96
8 CASTIGLIONI Arianna Italy ITA 1:07.06

King, of Indiana University, moved level with Jones, China’s Luo Xuejuan and Rebecca Soni of the United States in winning two 100m breaststroke world titles.

King and Efimova have had a frosty relationship which at times has spilled over into animosity on the deck starting at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

However, King said she has warmed up to her rival a little. “A little bit,” she said. “We still enjoy rivalry and we both have agreed multiple times that we love to race each other and it’s always a good race. I think we are taking the rivalry in stride and just kind of rolling with it for now.”

Efimova also claimed the pair were on better terms, saying: “Yeah. I mean we still have fighting on the lane line but nothing bad.

“Not like a friend. But a good relationship.

“It’s cool. It’s like when they’re fighting, they always make big commercials and I feel like we have the same kind of stuff. It’s crazy but I think it’s nice for people who are following.”

The 22-year-old King was hoping to give the United States team some momentum, saying: “That looked like it meant a lot.

“Team USA has kind of been off to a rough start. I really wanted to do that to get the ball rolling and I just felt like I needed to do it for them because we want to finish the meet a lot better than we started.

“I was just keeping them in mind mostly. They are my family. My (biological) family is not here, they are at home right now so they are watching at home. (My teammates) are my family while I’m here and they’ll always be my family so it was really important to get my hands on the wall.”

Efimova upgraded her bronze medal from 2017 to silver but she was not impressed by her performance.

“Not really. We both swam kind of not really good. But it’s good because we have one more year so hopefully it will be better.”

Efimova will now look to defend her 200m title which would bring her a trio of golds over four lengths.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I just enjoy the competition, enjoy the sport. I stopped thinking about the time, the medals, just working.”

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Alexander B Gallant
4 years ago

Lilly is more than a world Class athlete. Congrats, awesome as always.

Brett Davies
4 years ago

Finally another gold for USA
Great swim too

James Tebbett
James Tebbett
4 years ago

Were there only three competing?

Ed Burton
4 years ago

Good. Can’t have another drug cheat winning.

Brent Lichty
4 years ago

Congrats Lil

Jhann Bangloy-Mantala
4 years ago

Awesome. How about the other US swimmers. Are they performing well?

John McCormack
4 years ago

Jhann Bangloy-Mantala performance wise I’d say it’s a mixed bag…

Jhann Bangloy-Mantala
4 years ago

John McCormack Aus and china are performing well. Just like Murphy at Grevers what happened to them

4 years ago

You forgot Hardy, Jessica* tested positive for the banned substance Clenbuterol.

Thomas A. Small
4 years ago


Shari Kennedy Halsmer
4 years ago

She’s a boss!

Carrie Silberbauer Bell

Shari Kennedy Halsmer yes she is!!! I love her!

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