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Lilly King Finishes Breaststroke Hat Trick With 200-Meter Gold At World Championships 

by Luke Hanlon

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.  

(L-R) Carson Foster, Kieran Smith, Drew Kibler and Trenton Julian pose with their medals during the medal ceremony for the men’s 4x200-meter freestyle final at the 2022 FINA World Championships on June 23, 2022 in Budapest, Hungary.


The Americans also continued their dominance in relays on Thursday, winning gold comfortably in the men’s 4x200 freestyle. The U.S. had a slim lead after Drew Kibler led off the race. Carson Foster gave Trenton Julian almost a full second of breathing room ahead of Australia halfway through the relay. Julian blew it open, and Kieran Smith cruised the final 200 to give the Americans a total time of 7:00.24, over three seconds faster than Australia. 
The U.S. finished fourth in the 4x200 free in Tokyo, which was something a couple of these swimmers haven’t forgotten almost a year later.  
“I can tell you that a lot of us have been talking about this for, really since the day we got that fourth-place finish,” said Kibler, who was on the relay team in Tokyo along with Smith1. “I know that was a pretty tough feeling for Kieran and I, and I know these guys would’ve felt the same. That’s something that we strive for in America, we expect nothing but the best and it feels pretty good to be back on track.” 
This is the first gold the U.S. has won in this event at worlds since 20132. It’s also the first world championships gold medal for all four Americans involved in the relay.  
“That was the best feeling in my swimming career,” Smith said, who entered the pool with an almost two-second lead. “Swimming with the lead at the world championships.” 
Olympian Torri Huske has kept herself busy this week, and Thursday was no exception. The 19-year-old captured bronze in the 100 freestyle, giving her four medals so far this week. She finished with a time of 52.92, which was her personal best time in this event and a quarter of a second behind Mollie O’Callaghan of Australia, who won gold.  
The Arlington, Virginia, native went on to swim in the 50 butterfly semis and set a new American record of 25.38.  
“I didn’t really know the time, to be honest, so I didn’t know that until you just told me,” Huske said about setting an American record.  
The Americans now have 32 total medals this week, with 14 of them gold. Australia is second in both categories, with 12 overall and four gold. The swimming competition in Budapest continues through Saturday. 
Rhyan White and Phoebe Bacon, who both made their Olympic debuts in Tokyo, looked strong in the women’s 200 backstroke semis. They each won their respective heats, with Bacon registering the fastest time of 2:05.93. White’s time of 2:07.04 was the third fastest time of the two heats. They’ll try to add to Team USA’s medal count in tomorrow’s final.  
Michael Andrew also took care of business in the two semifinals he competed in. His time of 21.80 tied him for fifth in the 50 freestyle, and he snuck into the 100 butterfly final with a time of 51.28, which was .13 seconds faster than the ninth-place finisher. Both finals will take place tomorrow.  

Luke Hanlon is a sportswriter and editor based in Minneapolis. He is a freelance contributor to courtesy of Red Line Editorial, Inc.