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Lilly King Remains Queen Of The 100 Breaststroke With Second Consecutive World Title

By Karen Price | July 23, 2019, 10:15 a.m. (ET)

Lilly King competes at the 2019 FINA World Championships on July 23, 2019 in Gwangju, South Korea.


Lilly King is the world champion in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke — again.

In a result that was eerily similar to the Olympic Games Rio 2016, King won the event Tuesday at the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, touching the wall in 1:04.93. That matched her Olympic record-setting time nearly three years ago when she became just the fourth woman to break the 1:05 mark in the event.

In fending off all challengers again on Tuesday, the Evansville, Indiana, native again beat Russian rival Yuliya Efimova, who won the silver in 1:05.49. Efimova also won silver at the last Olympics, where King wagged a finger mocking the Russian who nearly wasn’t allowed to compete because of a second doping violation, with a time of 1:05.50. 

Italy’s Martina Carraro won the bronze on Tuesday in 1:06.36.

King also won the 100-meter breaststroke world title in 2017, which combined with the Olympics gives her the past three major championships in the event. In addition, she also has another 2016 Olympic gold medal from the 4x100 medley, as well as three other world titles.

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She’s expected to compete in the 50- and 200-meter breaststrokes, in addition to as many as two relays, as the swimming competition continues through Sunday.

In other action Tuesday, Olympic relay gold medalist Olivia Smoliga collected her first individual medal at the long course world championships, winning bronze in the women’s 100-meter backstroke. Smoliga finished in 58.91, which was .31 seconds behind gold medalist Kylie Masse of Canada. Australia’s Minna Atherton won silver in 58.85.

Last December, Smoliga set a record when she won eight golds at the short course world championships, more than any other swimmer at a short or long course worlds. She had also previously won four short course medals in 2012 and two long course golds in 2017 (both in relays).

Olympic gold medalists Ryan Murphy and Matt Grevers finished just off the podium in the men’s 100-meter backstroke, placing fourth and fifth, respectively.

Five-time Olympic champion Katie Ledecky, who already won a silver medal in the 400 free in Gwangju, was set to compete in the heats for the 200 free on Tuesday but withdrew due to medical issues. She later withdrew from the 1,500 free final as well, as teammate Ashley Twichell finished just off the podium in fourth place.

Ledecky still could swim in the 4x200 freestyle Thursday and the 800 free, which begins Friday.

After three days of swimming in Gwangju, the U.S. leads the way with seven total medals, as well as an event-leading three golds.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Lilly King