Those who were around her at a young age likely knew there was something special about Evansville native and Reitz High School graduate, Lilly King from the moment she first dove into a swimming pool. It wasn't until 2016 the rest of us in the Tri-State, and around the world, took notice too.

Lilly became a household name during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil after winning gold medals in the 4x100 medley, and the 100-meter breaststroke, the latter of which she had been undefeated in since 2015 until her bronze medal finish in last year's Tokyo games. But, it wasn't just Lilly's performance in the water that gained her worldwide recognition. It was her rivalry with Russian swimmer, Yuliya Efimova in those 2016 games that had people talking. Here's a little refresher in case you don't remember.

Efimova was considered one of the best swimmers in the world but had failed two tests for performance-enhancing drugs in previous competitions, putting her previous accomplishments into question. After being named by the World Anti-Doping Agency during an investigation of Russian state-sponsored doping, she was barred from the Olympics only to be reinstated after appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Many people in the world of swimming believed she didn't deserve the reinstatement, including Lilly which led to the infamous video of her finger-wag while watching Efimova win her semi-final. A moment Lilly talked about during an interview with NBC sports back in March of 2020.

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Beyond the Olympics

After her two gold medals in 2016, Lilly added to her medal count with one silver and one bronze in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. But, before either of those appearances garnered her worldwide notoriety, her trophy case was already filled with these impressive accomplishments:

  • Eight-time NCAA champion (the first woman in history to do so)
  • Nine Big Ten Conference Championships
  • All-American Honors in eight breaststroke and relay events
  • 2016 Swimmer of the Year
  • 13 World Championship Medals (11 gold, 2 silver)

One of the Best Ever

After reading over that list of accomplishments, it's no surprise the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) recently included her on their list of the 100 Greatest Women's Swimmers & Divers. A list that began with "nearly three-thousand nominees" before being whittled down to 973 finalists and voted on by a panel of current and former college swimmers, coaches, and members of the media, according to the CSCAA.

Prior to her inclusion on this list, Lilly was back home in Evansville in early October to take part in the grand opening/dedication of the new Deaconess Aquatic Center in Garvin Park which features a 50-meter competition pool named after Lilly herself.

Lilly is currently a member of the Cali Condors swim team who is getting ready to defend their International Swimming League championship in The Netherlands later this month.

Congrats to Lilly on being named to the CSCAA's list. Keep representing Evansville well!

[Source: Lilly King on Facebook / Team USA / Vox]

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