Think Like Queen Lilly King: How Confidence Can Make You a Better Swimmer


Think Like Queen Lilly King: How Confidence Can Make You a Better Swimmer

“I just like to see if I can win the race before it starts,” Olympic swimmer Lilly King commented on an Olympic Channel podcast last October. King is the reigning Olympic and world champion in the 100-meter breaststroke, and the world-record holder in the event. In addition to her swimming prowess, King is also well known for the extreme confidence she brings into every race.

King is always ready to race. Many young athletes should try to emulate her example when they are in the water. After all, your hardest critic is yourself. By having the mental strength to push through and believe in yourself, you open the door to a multitude of opportunities.

Why King’s Confidence is Important

“You can have all the physical talent in the world, but if you don’t feel confident in yourself and your capabilities, then that talent won’t count for anything. Your lack of confidence and self-belief will suppress your talent from ever expressing itself when you go to compete,” Will Jonathan wrote on the USA Swimming News website.

King has stated that she hates losing, which usually motivates in her races. In order to become a better and more mentally capable swimmer, you must first find something to motivate you. Whether it is hitting a new time, winning a heat, or showing off to a friend, a swimmer must always have a reason for swimming.

Without a reason for being there, the sport can become tedious. It can be easy to give up or quit at these points. After all, why are you there if you don’t have a goal?

Even Olympians – the best in the world – can become burned out without a goal. Practices seem endless. And they may have already accomplished Olympic victory and crushed world records.  What else is there to do afterward? These thoughts might negatively impact an athletes performance.

Lilly King even admitted that she had trouble finding motivation to keep swimming after winning gold in Rio in 2016. She’d already done it all. Broken world records. Won gold. Fortunately, King was able to find new goals for herself, and her love of the sport (and winning) kept her going. Now, she’s the favorite going into the 100 breaststroke at the Tokyo Games and many Americans hope for a repeat performance. She’s also signed on with the Cali Condors for another ISL season, something that’s still new and interesting for Olympians.

Because of her belief in herself, King entered the Olympic Trials with her signature confidence. In a smaller sense, setting goals can be important for many different types of swimmers. By believing that you have the ability to reach a goal, you develop a belief in yourself as well.

International Swim League (ISL) Skins Races

The International Swim League – which began in 2019 – pits swimmers from across the world against each other in world class competition. The Skins races are a highlight, and close out the league’s meets. A Skins event is a series of back-to-back-to-back 50-meter races which operate on a knockout basis, with two swimmers racing each other in the final race. Winner takes all. To add to the anticipation, the winning medley relay gets to choose which stroke they’d like to swim in the skins. In 2020, the female Cali Condors chose breaststroke.

Lilly King was dominant in this area. On several occasions, she swept the three rounds of the breaststroke, turning away top-flight competition by sizable margins.

Having confidence in yourself may not make you the fastest breaststroker in the world, or even the fastest breaststroker on your team. However, it can help you to do great things. By dominating the first two rounds, King developed an unbeatable sense about herself, and hyped her team. Her mentality won the day for the Condors.


Lilly King is just one of the many great examples of confidence in swimming. Her “never give up” attitude and extreme confidence in herself propel her to continue swimming well. If you are ever up on the block, unsure of what to do, look inward and find a reason for swimming. Be like Lilly King.

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Rosemary Niebauer
2 years ago

Good article about a very confident swimmer!
Great job!!

Bob Niebauer
2 years ago

Ms. Dunn finishes her article with the lines: ” If you are ever up on the block, unsure of what to do, look inward and find a reason for swimming. Be like Lilly King.”

This is great statement for life! A person will never win if they are uncertain that they can win. The power in life always comes from within!

Great article, Riley!! Thanks.