2022 FINA WORLD AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
- June 18-25, 2022 (pool swimming)
- Budapest, Hungary
- Duna Arena
- LCM (50-meter format)
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Lilly King added a unique piece of history to her resume on Thursday night at the 2022 World Championships in Budapest, as she claimed gold in the women’s 200 breaststroke in a time of 2:22.41.
King’s victory was her first in the event, and gives her the career set, having won titles across the 50, 100 and 200-meter distances at the World Championships.
King won the women’s 50 and 100 breast at both the 2017 and 2019 World Championships, and will have the opportunity to three-peat in the 50 on the final night of competition in Budapest on Saturday.
The 50/100/200 accomplishment makes King the first American swimmer to do so in history, and just the second of all-time (only factoring in 50, 100 and 200 of the same stroke for each swimmer).
The only other to win all three distances is her Russian rival Yuliya Efimova, who had a memorable showdown with King at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Efimova won the women’s 50 breast in 2009 and 2013, the 100 breast in 2015, and the 200 breast in 2013, 2017 and 2019.
King has been knocking on the door in the 200 breast for years, and finally gets over the hump with the victory here after setting a lifetime best in last year’s Olympic final, winning silver behind South African Tatjana Schoenmaker.
King was 12th in the women’s 200 breast at the 2016 Games, fourth at the 2017 World Championships, and then was disqualified for a non-simultaneous touch in the prelims at the 2019 Worlds.
Then came the Tokyo Olympics, where King had a phenomenal swim in the final, breaking the 2:20-barrier for the first time (2:19.92), but fell to Schoenmaker, who broke the world record in 2:18.95.
Things didn’t go well early on during these 2022 championships for King, as she missed the podium in the 100 breast as the defending two-time champion.
After the race, her head coach at Indiana University, Ray Looze, said she was competing in Budapest “at 80% of her capability,” with sources later confirming she was dealing with COVID-19 prior to the meet.
Despite that, King managed to secure the victory on Thursday in the 200 breast final, moving up from fifth at the final turn to win in a time of 2:22.41. While it was well off her best time, and the event’s slowest winning time since 2003, it gives her a unique piece of history.
The two men who have come closest to achieving this feat are fellow breaststrokers Brendan Hansen and Kosuke Kitajima, who both won titles in the 100 and 200 breast but had their best finish come in second (Hansen, 2007) and bronze (Kitajima, 2005) in the 50 breast.
Russia’s Evgeny Rylov owns two gold medals in the men’s 200 back, and also won silver in both the 50 and 100 back in 2019, while Australian Michael Klim won the men’s 200 free in 1998 while taking second in the 100 free and third in the 50 free.
At the Olympics, Pieter van den Hoogenband owns golds in the men’s 100 and 200 free and a bronze in the 50 free. Emma McKeon and Sarah Sjostrom are two recent female swimmers who have won a medal at the Olympics in the 50, 100 and 200-meter freestyle distances.