Lilly King celebrates after winning gold in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke final at the 2022 FINA World Championships on June 23, 2022 in Budapest, Hungary.
It looked like Lilly King’s woes in the 200-meter breaststroke were set to continue.
The 25-year-old from Evansville, Indiana, was in fifth at the 150 turn, and her chances of winning her first medal in this event appeared to be slipping away. But she posted a final 50 split of 36.36 to pass the four swimmers ahead of her to win gold by more than a half second with a time of 2 minutes, 22.41 seconds as the FINA World Championships continued Thursday in Budapest, Hungary.
King had won world titles in the 50 and 100 breaststroke in 2017 and 2019, to go with her 2016 Olympic gold medal in the 100 breaststroke, but she had never won a global championship in the 200. After missing out on the bronze in the 100 breast by .05 seconds on Monday, this may be signaling a change in what distance King is best at going forward.
“I guess I’m a distance swimmer now, so that kind of stinks,” King said with a laugh after winning the 200. She also won an Olympic silver medal in the event last year. “I know it’s something that’s really hard to do, but it’s been one of my goals for a really long time so I’m excited.”
Kate Douglass, who won a bronze in the 200 individual medley in Tokyo, captured bronze in the 200 breast for her second medal of the week. Douglass, 20, had been mostly a freestyle swimmer earlier in her career, but she might have found a new specialty in the breaststroke.
“It’s been great to be able to focus on this event this year and to be training for it,” Douglass said. “It’s been difficult cause I still don’t totally know how to race it or what my gameplan is. Tonight, I just went for it and held on at the end there. I’m still learning how to swim it.”
Like King, Ryan Murphy also got a monkey off his back on Thursday. The 26-year-old has won two golds and four total Olympic medals in individual backstroke events in his career, but he had never won an individual world title. That’s not the case anymore, as Murphy won gold in the 200 backstroke with a time of 1:54.52. He led for almost the entire race and beat runner-up Luke Greenbank of Great Britain by over six tenths of a second.
“This one hurt a lot,” Murphy said. “This is what I work for. Every day I wake up with a sense of urgency. I’m trying my best, I’m giving it everything I’ve got and I’ve got really great people around me. So to be able to come out here, execute, come out with a win, that really means a lot for me and all the people that have helped me get here.”
This is the second medal of the week for Murphy, who picked up a silver in the 100 backstroke on Monday. It also gives him 11 overall medals in his world championships career.
Fellow American Shaine Casas, 22, won bronze in the 200 back, earning him the first world championships medal of his young career.