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May 16 21

Swim star McKeown dominates again

by ZwemZa

Kaylee McKeown has cruised to victory in the 200m individual medley in the Sydney Open. Credit: AAP

Teenage swim star Kaylee McKeown will go into the Olympic trials full of confidence after wrapping up a dominant campaign at the Sydney Open.

The 19-year-old Queenslander won the 200m individual medley in two minutes 08.73 seconds – the fastest time recorded in the world this year – at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre on Sunday.

And she backed it up in winning the non-Olympic 50m backstroke, setting a national and Commonwealth record of 27.16 – just 0.18 outside the world record.

McKeown was brilliant throughout the three-day Sydney Open, previously setting world-best marks for 2021 in the 100m and 200m backstroke.

It appears a mere formality that she will dominate again at next month’s Tokyo Games trials in Adelaide.

“We really do put a lot of focus and attention on our race processes and we find that if we get those processes done well then the result usually follows,” McKeown’s coach Chris Mooney said.

“We never really focus on the result, just focus on what we can control.”

Another Queenslander in record-breaking form on Sunday was Zac Stubblety-Cook who clocked a new Australian mark of 2:07.00 – the second fastest time in the world this year – for 200m breaststroke.

“It does wonders for the confidence, knowing that all the hard work in training, that comes down to just over two minutes work in the race is certainly paying off and we are on the right track,” he said.

There was also success for Gold Coast-based Maddy Gough in the 1500m freestyle in a personal best time of 15:55.14 – seven seconds under the Olympic qualifying time.

AAP

May 16 21

European Aquatics Championships, Budapest – Day 6, Summary

by ZwemZa

Gregorio Paltrinieri (Getty Images)

Paltrinieri completes hat-trick, Daley claims first ever synchro gold

Italy’s superhero Gregorio Paltrinieri completed a hat-trick in open water as he was the one who made the difference in the team event to give Italy the victory and to claim his third title in the Lupa Lake. Though Britain’s diving star Tom Daley had an amazing collection of gold medals but today he added one which he had never won before: a title in the men’s platform synchro event. With Matthew Lee, they came first in an incredibly thrilling final, bagging 43 marks of 9.0-9.5 out of 54. The women’s 3m final wasn’t any less exciting, at the end Germany’s Tina Punzel had the last laugh.

Gregorio Paltrinieri made the difference in the team event at Lake Lupa: his blast in the third leg – 12:53min – gave a 14sec lead to Italy before the last 1250m lap and that was easy to defend by Domenico Acerenza. The field was together at the halfway mark, then it was quickly torn apart once Paltrinieri left the pack behind. Before the last lap, the French had a 7sec advantage ahead of Hungary and Germany when the anchors began the final quest.

Three world champions clashed for the two remaining spots on the podium and Marc Antoine Olivier, Florian Wellbrock and Kristof Rasovszky staged a thrilling battle. Though Rasovszky is famous for anything but being a sprinter, team spirit took over and with Wellbrock they managed to catch up 5km and 10km silver medallist Olivier and turned into the final sprint shoulder-byshoulder. They seemed to hit the finish panel at the very same time – 9 seconds behind Acerenza –, and the referee had to watch the recording a couple of times before he confirmed that Wellbrock was the fastest to touch in, 0.5sec ahead of Rasovszky, and a fingernail separated him and Olivier (0.2sec) for the bronze. Paltrinieri finished his open water campaign with 3/3 golds, and he will be back for more in the pool next week.

In the closing event in artistic swimming, Ukraine came closer to Russia in the gold medal race (6-4) as they won the Highlights Routine. While the event is yet to attract more entries, the Ukrainians got significantly high scores, which can be a huge boost for them for the summer. Belarus came second and host Hungary claimed its first-ever medal in artistic swimming, a bronze.

With eight podium finishes in as many starts, Ukraine claimed the Team Trophy (they did not enter in mixed duet) – Martina Fiedina was part of each so she is the most decorated swimmer of the championships so far with four gold and four silver medals.

In the previous two ‘big’ editions, the Brits enjoyed some outstanding success in diving, an 11-medal haul (3 titles) in London 2016 and 10 podium finishes (4 titles) in Glasgow 2018. Now they had to wait till the penultimate day of  the competition to celebrate their first victory. Tom Daley and Matthew Lee won a majestic duel against Russia’s super due of Victor Minibaev and Aleksandar Bondar.

The two pairs left the others behind once the DD jumped to the heights of 3.2-3.6s. Indeed all four divers were tremendous during the entire competition – out of the 54 marks Daley and Lee received in the afternoon, 43 were 9.0 or 9.5. The Russians got less 9.0 and 9.5s (25) but their programme was slightly stronger in DDs, so at the end only 5.61 points separated them. The last three dives were all 92+ pointers for both, the difference came in the third round when, due to a minor mistake, Bondar and Minibaev got ‘only’ 79, while the Brits earned 86 – and thanks to the following superb deliveries the gap remained till the end.

Patrick Hausding was back to the podium after an ‘off-day’ in the 3m final, now he claimed his fourth medal here, a second bronze (also has two golds). Diving with Timo Barthel, the Germans did a fine job and their third place was never in danger. Indeed it was some consolation after they had missed the Olympic cut in Tokyo by a tiny margin.

Like in the British camp, there was a missing part for the Germans too: a medal in the women’s event. It came this evening finally and it was a gold straight away. Tina Punzel claimed it after a highly exciting final in the women’s 3m.

The first two rounds saw solid dives from the favourites, then in the third Punzel and Italy’s Chiara Pellacani both had an erroneous attempt while Russia’s Vitalia Koroleva came up.

LEN

May 15 21

Australian Teenager Kaylee McKeown swims second fastest 100m Backstroke ever

by ZwemZa

Kaylee McKeown narrowly miss American rival Regan Smith’s world record.© Twitter

Australian teenager Kaylee McKeown fired a warning shot Saturday ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, swimming the second fastest women’s 100 metre backstroke ever to narrowly miss American rival Regan Smith’s world record. The 19-year-old, who is shaping as a serious contender for multiple Olympic medals, hit the wall in 57.63 seconds at the Sydney Open, just outside Smith’s all-time mark of 57.57, set at the 2019 world championships

It followed her victory in the 200m backstroke on Friday in the fourth quickest time in history.

“I wasn’t expecting to come out and do that swim this morning and I’ve got no complaints about it. I’m pretty happy,” she said after setting a new Australian and Commonwealth record.

“It was so close to the world record but I have to have something to chase and Regan is still the No.1 girl at the moment.”

She revealed that Smith texted her after her 200m performance.

“It’s nice to hear from competitors from all over the world, nice to know they’re watching and they’ve got your back as well,” she said.

“Regan is an outstanding swimmer and she’s a lovely person.

“It’s a pretty outstanding world record to be chasing and to come up and edge a bit closer is exciting.”

Australia’s Olympic trials are in Adelaide next month, where records could fall. McKeown is also set to contest the 200m individual medley in Tokyo.

Agence France-Presse

May 15 21

Backflips, half jabs, synchronised snubbing? IOC runs rings around Tokyo

by ZwemZa

People wearing face masks in the Kabuki-cho area of Tokyo.Credit:Getty Images

In case you hadn’t noticed already, these Tokyo Olympics are going to look a little different. It’s not just that there’ll be no people, no atmosphere and no appetite for them in Japan. It’s that there will be a raft of new events, adapted to the times.

The first is The Leading from Behind: Thomas Bach already has this wrapped up. There he was this week, not going to Tokyo yet. It’s dangerous there, you know? And there was the rest of the IOC, right behind their leader from behind.

The 100 Metres Backwards: Bach doubles up, in world record time.

The Double Speak: The frontrunner is Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, figurehead of an Olympic Games his people don’t want. “I’ve never put the Olympics first,” he said. No, but they are equal first with their major opponent, the people of Japan. It’s a dead heat. With an average daily temperature of more than 30 degrees, it’ll also be hot. And without fans, dead.

The Full Twisting Double Double with Pike: Yep, Bach. There is no Plan B, he says. This is Plan B already and it’s wobbling like a vaulter’s pole. Perhaps he means we’re going straight to Plan C. Also on the podium, Australia’s own John Coates. He cannot see a scenario under which the Games would not proceed, he says. He said that last year, too.

The Backflip: This is a much misunderstood manoeuvre, commonly taken to mean reversal. In fact, if properly executed, you fling yourself backwards, but end up standing in the same place, facing the same way. Um, IOC again.

The Half Jab: Australia’s Olympians lead this into the turn. We’ll have one now, the other when we’re ready rather than when medically indicated. You can’t have it that a brave Olympian is being protected from a gold medal. That would be wrong. And anyway, we’re dead set against drugs in sport.

The Double Back: Australian basketballer Liz Cambage. She’s not going except she is.

The Reverse False Start: You go, but only after everyone else does. For this, there is a big field.

The Own-Goal-Out: Replacing the penalty shootout in soccer and hockey. Style marks will be incorporated. It’s not just how many, but how embarrassing. The IOC is hot favourite.

Synchronised Snubbing: Tennis players Kei Nishikori and Naomi Osaka are both wavering about going, and they’re Japanese. They’re going to have to leave Tokyo to not go. When Japanese athletes are hesitating, you’d think the IOC might think twice. But no, they’re thinking of sushi and sake.

The Turn Your Back Stroke: This is in the bag for the IOC. Public opinion in Japan is running 2:1 against staging the Games, the government is equivocal and many athletes are anxious but so what?

But the IOC already have declared themselves the winner. At the IOC, one third is a majority if necessary. You know, like boxing. They’re also wondering about this state called Emergency and whether it ever has put in a bid for the Games and what sort of schools it has that might work for their kids.

The Who Dares … Is An Idiot Award: The IOC’s got this one. “Despite all the care taken, risks and impacts may not be fully eliminated,” reads its latest playbook for athletes and officials,“and therefore you agree to attend the Olympic Games at your own risk.” The IOC? They’ll be waiting for you outside.

Taking its cue from the uneven bars in gymnastics, the Uneven Competition: How could it possibly be even? With so much askew in the world – lockdowns all over the place, vaccines here but not there, trial competitions cancelled – it cannot. As for gymnastics, we now know that whether it or not it was ever even, it wasn’t fair.

Replacing beach volleyball, the Head-in-the-Sand: See IOC above. Requires epic breath-holding while everything just magically goes away. Watch out for the classic look-away move.

The Adam Scott Trophy: Standing up to the convention last time, when the Olympics said jump, instead of asking how high, Scott said ho hum. And didn’t go. And isn’t going again. Nor is Dustin Johnson, the world’s No.1 ranked golfer. The Olympics are big. But the majors are major.

Replacing handball, Hand-Washing: With extra sanitiser. The IOC is looking at a clean sweep. A very clean sweep.

The Mutual Back Stroke: This little-known event in fact is not new, but has been a staple on the Olympic program all along. It is executed by the IOC and NBC in a kind of permanently locked position. They can’t lose. They mustn’t lose. Losing is for losers. It’s why we’re all going to Tokyo, come hell or high fever.

By Greg Baum | The Age

May 15 21

Ghana to host CANA African Seniors and Juniors Swimming and Open Water Championships

by ZwemZa

Kenya’s Eric Shivo reacts during the 50 meters Freestyle event at the 2019 Confederation of Africa Swimming (Cana) Zone III Championships at the Kasarani Aquatic Stadium on November 30, 2019. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The Ghana Swimming Association has won the bid to host the Senior and Junior African Swimming Championships this year.

Ghana won the bid after an impressive display of hosting right of the 7th Cana Zone 2 Senior Swimming and Open Water Championship held last year February 2020 at the Bukom International Pool.

The West African nation will be hosting 54 countries from both seniors and juniors swimming and open water championships from the 11th – 17th October 2021.

The likes of Chad Le Clos from South Africa, Abeiku Gyekye Jackson from Ghana, Collins Obi from Nigeria, Stephen Amiable from Senegal will be here to thrill Ghanaian fans with a wonderful display of African swimming.

Watch out for more exciting stories from the Ghana Swimming Association in connection to this wonderful achievement.

By Cecil Stanley Nii Teiko Tagoe | Modern Ghana

May 15 21

European Aquatics Championships, Budapest – Day 5, Summary

by ZwemZa

Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina. © Michael Dalder / Reuters

Romashina, Kolesnichenko gets perfect 10.0, Russia claims four golds and 100th diving title

The Russian super duet of Svetlana Romashina and Svetlana Kolesnichenko offered pure magic and earned one perfect mark for their free routine. Another Russian gold came in the mixed duet while Ukraine won the team free, here Israel claimed a historic first-ever bronze medal. The diving pool also became Russian territory for this evening, they come first in the women’s 10m synchro and Evgenii Kuznetsov and Nikita Shleikher delivered another 1-2 finish for the team in the men’s 3m. Kuznetsov earned 525 points in the final, an amazing feat – and a stylish way to clinch Russia’s 100th diving title at European Championships.

FLASH QUOTES

While the Russians usually keep their brand new team free routine a top secret in Olympic years in order to amaze everyone at the Games (and not to give the chance for anyone to copy any element of it), their duet didn’t hide or hold back anything this morning. The two Svetlanas – 22 European titles among them before this event –, Romashina and Kolesnichenko got ‘into the zone’ for this performance.

Of course, every time they offer their actual best, but there are few occasions when really everything comes together and for four minutes everyone around the pool and in front of the TVs feels that this is pure magic. The judges also shared that impression and for the first time since 2010 a perfect mark of 10.0 points appeared on the scoreboard at the European Championships, in the company of a couple of 9.9s and 9.7s. (So Budapest is a lucky place in that sense, 11 years ago the Russians earned a handful of 10s in three events on the Margaret Island.)

Just as in the technical final, Ukraine and Austria claimed the other medals, and the mixed duet free also mirrored the ranks of the technical event: Aleksandr Maltsev and Olesia Platonova came first, ahead of the Spaniards and the Italians. The team free event saw history in the making: Ukraine’s victory and Spain’s silver were expected but for the first time Israel could step on the podium – the team members erupted in joy upon learning that their dream came true.

Russia’s golden charge continued in the diving pool. After coming 1-2 in the individual event, the Russians grabbed the women’s platform synchro title too. Iulia Timoshinina and Ekaterina Beilaeva sat in the second place before the last round but the Ukrainian pair of Ksenia Bailo and Sofiia Lyskun blew their final dive and was dropped to third. Just to highlight the contrast: while the Russians and the Brits, Eden Cheng and Lois Toulson, received 70+ points for their 407C (inward 31⁄2 somersaults), the Ukrainians earned only 48.06 and that was decisive.

The men’s 3m final produced the highest level so far in the diving competition. This evening only tiny mistakes left the athletes in the hunt for the top spots – a mediocre attempt meant an immediate bow-out. The two Russians quickly transformed the final to their in-house duel as Evgenii Kuznetsov and Nitika Schleikher produced outstanding dives. Kuznetsov, parading with huge beard, reminiscent of Viking warriors, kicked off his campaign with three 80+ jumps, while Shleikher came up with a 94.50 pointer in the second round.

Germany’s Martin Wolfram could keep up with them, compatriot and former (2010-11, 2014) champion Patrick Hausding, with two titles already under his belt, ran out of miracles this evening and finished 9th. Olympic silver medallist and 2018 victor Jack Laugher had a messy night with erroneous attempts in each even round to end up 6th.

On contrary, Shleikher even took the lead after the 4th round but Kuznetsov replied in style in the fifth for 94.50 points and he crowned the evening with the week’s first 100+-pointer on his last attempt. It secured his third title in this event after 2016 and 2019, but it was the first time he could score over 500 points. In fact, he got 525.20, an outstanding feat – and a stylish way to clinch Russia’s 100th gold medal in diving (Soviet Union included) in the history of the European Championships.

LEN

May 15 21

Stacked 200m Backstroke field comes down to six one-hundredths at TYR Pro Swim Series at Indianapolis Night Three

by ZwemZa

Phoebe Bacon narrowly out-touched Regan Smith in the 200-meter backstroke, Michael Andrew set another TYR Pro Swim Series record and Hali Flickinger picked up her second win of the meet the third night of finals at the TYR Pro Swim Series meet at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis, Ind.

 

Bacon and Regan Smith duked it out in the women’s 200m back. The two swimmers were neck-and-neck throughout the entire race, flipping less than a tenth apart on each of the three turns. At the finish, Bacon had just enough left to get to the wall first, 2:06.84 to 2:06.90. Both swimmers will be major contenders in the event next month at Trials.

“I knew both of us were going to be out fast, and I knew I could keep up with her on that first 100,” Bacon said. “For me, it was just all about hammering down that last 100, especially the last 50. I knew I couldn’t let her get out of my eye sight; I had to keep her right there with me, and just try to pull ahead on that finish.”

Andrew set a new U.S. Open record and TYR Pro Swim Series meet record last night in the 100m breast, and followed that up with a second meet record tonight, this time in the men’s 100m fly. Andrew stopped the clock in 50.80 for the win, about a second and a half ahead of second place finisher Zach Harting.

“It was pretty much exactly what I planned on doing this evening,” Andrew said afterwards. “It was a good race, there are details to adjust and overall it was just really strong into the closing. I feel like this whole weekend is just building confidence going into Trials.”

After winning the 200m fly last night, Flickinger cruised to a 4:37.73 in the women’s 400m IM tonight to easily out-distance runner-up Ally McHugh (4:40.89).

“I’m just extremely grateful to be a part of this team [Sun Devil Aquatics],” Flickinger said after her swim. “Just one person does something, and you want to do your part – I’m just having so much fun!”

Regan Smith, after pulling off a tight double with her second-place finish in the 200m fly to start the night, picked up her first win of the week in the women’s 100m fly in a tightly contested race. Smith topped the final heat in 57.68, with 2016 Olympian Kelsi Dahlia (57.75) and Virginia standout Kate Douglass (57.76) right on her heels. The event is shaping up to be one of the hottest events at Trials with a slew of swimmers poised to make the team.

“The future is young, it’s insane,” Smith said. “The amount of talent in this event is exciting and it’s cool that I’m kind of in the mix of things now. I never really saw myself as a sprint butterflier, but it’s really awesome to race alongside these athletes.”

Four swimmers battled it out for the top spot in the women’s 200m free, with Paige Madden making a late comeback with a sub-30 final 50 to take the win in 1:57.47, just over a tenth ahead of the 2012 Olympic champion in the event, Allison Schmitt (1:57.59). Emma Nordin (1:57.68) and Leah Smith (1:57.81) finished right behind. Madden tried out a new strategy on the final 50 and it clearly paid off.

“I’ve been trying to work on breathing every four strokes for the last 50, and especially in the last 25,” Madden said. “I’ve been working on that in practice and I knew I wanted to do that here.”

In the men’s 200m free, Grant House led from wire to wire, out-touching last night’s 100m free winner Blake Pieroni, 1:47.69 to 1:48.04. House was pleased with the swim and where his training has brought him.

“I knew I wanted to trust the training over the past couple of months and focus on what I’ve been doing in the last three years since coming to Arizona State. It was a great field and I’m really excited with that time,” he said.

In other swims, Thomas Watkins took home the men’s 200m back win in 1:59.21, while Jarod Arroyo claimed the men’s 400m IM in 4:18.57.

The TYR Pro Swim Series concludes tomorrow with prelims beginning at 9 a.m. ET and finals at 6 p.m. ET. Click here for more information, results, broadcast times and more.

By Emily Sampl | USA Swimming Contributor

 

 

May 15 21

Brazil begins mass vaccination of Tokyo-bound Olympians

by ZwemZa

Olympics – Brazilian athletes and staff travelling to Tokyo for the Olympics receive COVID-19 vaccine – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – May 14, 2021 Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha, Larissa de Oliveira, Marcos Vinicius D’Almeida and Michel Pessanha pose after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech

Brazil began a mass vaccination program on Friday for athletes, coaches, staff and journalists heading to the Olympic Games in Tokyo in July.

Doctors in six Brazilian cities vaccinated the first groups of 1,800 people, Olympians and Paralympians among them.

“I feel like it gives me security,” one of these getting the Pfizer vaccine, archer Marcus Vinícius D’Almeida, said.

“I was blocked from participating in some countries so now I feel that I can complete my pre-Olympic routine during these last three months without the worry that I will get sick.”

Brazil has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic with more than 428,000 fatalities so far, a number higher than any country bar the United States.

Many nations have halted flights from Brazil due to the high number of positive cases there. More than 1,000 people are still dying of the virus in South America’s most populous nation.

Reuters

May 15 21

Critics of Tokyo Olympics submit petition urging cancellation

by ZwemZa

Lawyer Kenji Utsunomiya shows off placards during a news conference after he and anti-Olympics petition organizer to submit a petition calling for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to be cancelled to Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike (not in picture) at the Tokyo Metropolitan Office press club in Tokyo, Japan

Critics of Japan’s plan to hold the Tokyo Olympics despite a fourth wave of coronavirus infections submitted a petition on Friday signed by 350,000 people over nine days calling for the Games to be cancelled.

“Stop Tokyo Olympics” campaign organiser Kenji Utsunomiya said the global festival of sport – already postponed from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic – should take place only when Japan can welcome visitors and athletes wholeheartedly.

“We are not in that situation and therefore the Games should be cancelled,” he told a news conference. “Precious medical resources would need to be diverted to the Olympics if it’s held.”

The petition was submitted to the Olympic and Paralympic committee chiefs as well as Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.

It came as Japan added three more areas to a state of emergency now covering Tokyo, Osaka and four other prefectures amid surging case numbers, exactly 10 weeks from the scheduled July 23 opening of the Games. read more

Asked about the campaign against the Games, Tokyo Governor Koike said she would work towards a “safe and secure” Olympics.

“Though there is a global pandemic, it is important to hold a safe and secure Tokyo 2020 Games,” she told a regular news conference.

The new areas under the state of emergency include Hokkaido prefecture, where the Olympic marathon will take place, after it reported a record high of 712 new coronavirus cases on Thursday.

Nationwide, Japan has seen about 656,000 confirmed cases, with 11,161 deaths.

Opposition to the Games has also come from doctors, while some high-profile Japanese athletes have expressed concern, including Masters golf champion Hideki Matsuyama and top women’s tennis player Naomi Osaka.

Business leader Masayoshi Son, chief of SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T), added his voice to the chorus of trepidation on Thursday, saying in unusually blunt remarks he was afraid of what might happen if the Games went ahead.

Dozens of towns that had been due to host visiting athletes at pre-Games events have cancelled those plans, saying they could not guarantee medical help amid strains on the health system. read more

HUGS ‘NOT OK’

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, asked whether the Games would go ahead despite the increase in COVID cases, said organisers were looking to the International Olympic Committee’s backing for the Games.

“I am aware that many are concerned that it will lead to an outbreak of cases,” Nishimura told parliament.

“The organisers are currently working together closely, based on the decision by the International Olympic Committee to hold the Tokyo 2020 Olympics,” he said.

Organisers are determined to host the Games with coronavirus mitigation measures in place. A skateboarding event on Friday was the latest test for their precautions.

Organisers told reporters after the event that athletes and coaches had been told to follow measures and avoid the usual celebratory hugs and cheers on the sidelines.

“This kind of behaviour is not OK in terms of COVID-19 measures,” said Yasuo Mori, the deputy executive director of Tokyo 2020’s operations bureau.

“We’d usually take videos together but now we have to stay masked and two metres apart,” said skateboarder Ryuto Kikuta, 17, adding that he understood the measures were necessary but they still felt strange.

Spectators will not be allowed in from abroad, while a decision on Japanese-based spectors has yet to be made.

With the latest emergency measures, 19 out of Japan’s 47 prefectures fall under restrictions that include closures of eateries by 8 p.m. and a ban on alcohol at bars and restaurants.

Reuters

May 14 21

Lilly King: Dominant in the 100 Breaststroke, A work in progress in the 200, & outspoken as ever

by ZwemZa

Swimmer Lilly King poses for a portrait during the Team USA Tokyo 2020 Olympics shoot on Nov. 20, 2019 in West Hollywood, Calif

Before the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials for Swimming, few outside the swimming world had heard of Lilly King. Having just finished her freshman year at Indiana University, the 19-year-old had never competed in an international meet until she went to Rio.

But the brash breaststroker made her presence known, both at Trials, then at the Olympic Games Rio 2016. King won her first Olympic gold medal in the 100-meter breaststroke, breaking the Olympic record in the process. She followed up with another gold in the 4 x 100 medley relay.

Since then, King has won two world titles in the 100 breaststroke and set the world record in 2017.

So U.S. Olympic Trials for the Tokyo Games will be almost a formality for King—at least in the 100 breaststroke. She has held the fastest time in the world for the past three years in the 100 breaststroke. The last time she lost the event was at 2015 Nationals, when King—then a recent high school graduate—finished second to Rio bronze medalist Katie Meili.

As King recently told Swimming World Magazine, “I’m going to say I’m the best. I haven’t lost a 100 breaststroke (long course) in five years. I don’t think I need to defend myself on that one.”

The 200-meter breaststroke is another story for King, now a 24-year-old veteran. The distance  has not come as easily to her as the 100—or even the 50 in which she also holds two long-course world titles.

At 2016 Olympic Trials, King won the 200 in 2:24.08, beating among others 2015 world silver medalist Micah Lawrence. But in Rio, King faded to seventh in her semifinal heat and did not advance to the final. The 200 breaststroke was one of only two women’s swimming races in Rio where American women did not win at least one Olympic medal.

Since then, King has improved in the 200. But her coach at Indiana, Ray Looze, has called her 200 breaststroke “a work in progress.”

At the 2017 world championships, she finished fourth in 2:22.11, just missing a medal. A year later, she won a silver medal at the Pan Pacific Championships in the 200 in 2:22.12.

Then in the lead up to the 2019 world championships, King swam 2:21.39—her best time in the event to date. But she was disqualified at 2019 world championships for an illegal one-handed touch on one of her turns during prelims. King believes it was retribution for her continued outspokenness about competitors who have been caught using performance enhancing drugs.

Lately, King has found motivation by training with her teammates. After taking time off swimming following a disappointing 2016 Olympic Trials, Annie Lazor moved to Indiana in 2018 to train with the Hoosier post grad program, which includes King and Cody Miller, 2016 Olympic breaststroke bronze medalist. Since joining the group, Lazor has won the short-course world title in the 200 breaststroke and 2019 Pan Am Games gold medals in both the 100 and 200. Her best time in the 200 (2:20.77) was second in the world in 2019.

Before the pandemic lockdown in 2020, Lazor swam the fastest 200 breaststroke in the world and held it throughout the year. King was over one second behind her.

“I have my number one competitor in the 200 breaststroke training next to me every single day, so it’s definitely very motivating,” King said during a Team USA Tokyo Media Summit in April.

“Five years ago I made the [U.S. Olympic] team going 2:24 and that might not even make the A final this time around at Trials,” she added with a laugh. “So it’s definitely a very motivating and potentially stressful group of girls to be competing against because they’re all so strong, especially in the 200.”

But King is already in a better place than she was five years ago. Her fastest time in the 200 breaststroke this year is already two seconds faster than it was going to Rio, and she currently sits a tenth-of-a-second ahead of Lazor in the 200 breaststroke world rankings.

King has also excelled in the 200 breaststroke, short course, in the International Swimming League races. As a member of the Cali Condors, she won all but one 200 breaststroke races and was undefeated in the 100.

Once she gets to Tokyo, King is looking forward to being an Olympic veteran this time around.

“2016 was my first national team and I just didn’t really know what was going on,” she said. “I was just kind of overwhelmed with all of it. So [this time] I’m excited to just hang out in the village and see everything and get to experience the Games as more of a professional.”

But she will continue to be feisty and outspoken. It’s who she is.

“My mom likes to joke around that I am the fourth generation of very strong females, so I think it just comes from my family and how we act and that we don’t really care what other people think about us, and we’re going to do what we set our minds to and that’s just how I am,” she said during the Media Summit.

“It’s shocking,” she continued, “but I enjoy being myself. … I’ve kind of always been like that, so might as well stick with it.”

By Peggy Shinn | Team USA

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