Hardcore Swimmer of the Month: Lilly King, Indiana

Hardcore Swimmer of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based swimmer or water polo player who has proven themselves truly hardcore over the past month. As with any item of recognition, Hardcore Swimmer of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one athlete whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a swimmer who was visibly outperforming other swimmers over the month, or one whose accomplishements slipped through the cracks among other high-profile swims. If your favorite athlete wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.

February and March look like locks for perhaps the year’s toughest competition for our Hardcore Swimmer of the Month honors, with college conference and national championship events taking place almost every weekend of both months.

Late February was a slew of conference, NCAA and American records, some expected, some not (hello Katie Ledecky‘s 400 IM and Ally Howe‘s 100 back). And while there’s certainly a case to be made for surprise records, this month, we’re highlighting a swim that wasn’t so unexpected, but rather carries weight for its incredible historic dominance. And when you’re outdoing Katie Ledecky in historical dominance, you know you’re doing something right.

King’s crowning swim of the month was a 56.30 in the 100 breaststroke that shattered the fastest swim ever on record. As of last March, King was the only swimmer ever under 57 in the event, and less than a year later, she’s threatening to be the first ever under 56. King is now the fastest 100 breaststroker ever by .93 seconds and one of just seven swimmers ever to break even 58.

But King wasn’t done yet. She won the marquee matchup of the Big Ten Conference with a Big Ten meet record 2:04.03 in the 200 breast, toughing out a win against Canadian Olympian Kierra Smith as the two swam the 2nd- and 5th-fastest 200 breaststrokes of all-time.

King also put up the fastest breaststroke relay splits in history, going 56.53 on the winning 400 medley relay and 25.55 on the second-place 200 medley relay. And to top it all off, King won the 200 IM in 1:55.49 to seal Big Ten Swimmer of the Championships honors and make her a three-event scoring threat at NCAAs.



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Ned Ryerson

Lots of great swims during the conference championship season. How many American Records will we see at women’s NCAA’s? Will Franklin’s 1:39 be matched? How many records will Ledecky take down? Can King go 55? Can’t wait to see what happens in Indy!

A non E mouse

Ally Howe got robbed

bobo gigi

Jared Anderson is a breaststroker. 😉

cynthia curran

King is swimming breaststroke as fast as women use to swim fly in the 1970’s. Now that is a reason to celebrate.

cynthia curran

King is swimming breaststroke as fast as women use to swim fly in the 1970’s. Now that is a reason to celebrate.


I just tried to find a list of the top performances in the 100y breaststroke without success… It’s possible Lilly King has the top 10 performances ever like Ledecky in the 500, but let’s not get carried away and start proclaiming she’s “outdoing Katie Ledecky in historical dominance.” There’s a way to celebrate King’s historic performance without trying to force that comparison.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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