BUDAPEST — Lilly King has now won gold in every breaststroke event in her world swimming championships career. Ryan Murphy is now an individual world champion for the first time.
The U.S. added a third gold Thursday in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay, a year after placing fourth in Tokyo, the first time the U.S. failed to make a relay podium in Olympic history.
King won her first 200m breast title, clocking 2 minutes, 22.41 seconds at the Duna Arena. The 2016 Olympic champion and world record holder in the 100m breast prevailed by .63 of a second over Australian Jenna Strauch. American Kate Douglass took bronze, a year after bagging Olympic 200m individual medley bronze.
“I guess I’m a distance swimmer now, which kind of stinks for me,” joked King, who came back from fifth place at the 150-meter mark. “Welcoming this new chapter of my career. … I think this was my coach’s master plan all along.”
King followed her breakthrough 2016 Olympic gold with world titles in the 50m and 100m breast events in 2017 and 2019. In Tokyo, she earned bronze in the 100m and silver in the 200m.
South African Tatjana Schoenmaker, who lowered the world record to 2:18.95 to win the Olympic 200m breast in Tokyo, skipped worlds to prioritize the Commonwealth Games later this summer.
King, fourth in the 100m earlier this week, was competing at 80 percent, said her coach in Indiana, Ray Looze, according to reports.
“She’s doing the best she can,” Looze said Tuesday after the 100m breast, according to the Indianapolis Star. “It doesn’t take a genius to kind of know what’s going on, given the world around us.”
King said after Wednesday’s semifinals that she was feeling better and expected that to continue for the rest of the meet.
“Any time I have a bad swim, I feel like I’ve got a lot of haters out there,” King said of the 100m breast. “Just to be able to prove them wrong.”
She has one individual event left, the 50m breast, a non-Olympic event where she holds the world record. She can become the first woman to win a world championships breaststroke event three consecutive times.
Murphy captured his biggest individual title since sweeping the backstrokes at the 2016 Olympics, taking the 200m back in 1:54.52, topping Brit Luke Greenbank by .64. American Shaine Casas earned bronze in his first long-course world championships.
After checking off that box, Murphy said what’s left to accomplish is to lower his personal bests from 2016 and 2018.
“I’ve had an interesting career,” said Murphy, who just missed the 2012 Olympic and 2013 World Championships teams while in high school, had the meet of his life at the 2016 Olympics and six years later is back on top. “Being able to come into something that I have a talent for, try to be the best in the world, that never gets old.”
Murphy previously won four individual silver or bronze medals, plus four gold medals in relays, among the last four world championships.
Earlier at these worlds, he clocked his fastest 100m back in four years to earn silver behind Italian Thomas Ceccon, who broke Murphy’s world record.
Russian Yevgeny Rylov, who swept the backstrokes at the Tokyo Olympics (including an Olympic record 1:53.27 in the 200m), isn’t at worlds due to the nation’s ban for the war in Ukraine.
In Thursday’s last final, Drew Kibler, Carson Foster, Trenton Julian and Kieran Smith combined to win the 4x200m free by a comfortable 3.26 seconds over Australia. All four men won their first world title. Their time would have earned silver in Tokyo.
“Kieran and I were actually just looking at a photo taken right after we touched fourth at the Olympics last year, and it’s a pretty defeating photo,” Kibler said. “We were looking at it just before we came here, like, ‘We’re not going to experience that again.’”
Also Thursday, Australian Mollie O’Callaghan surged past American Torri Huske to win the women’s 100m free. Huske took bronze, her fourth medal this week, behind Swede Sarah Sjostrom, who earned her 17th career individual worlds medal, solo second all time behind Michael Phelps (20).
Australian Zac Stubblety-Cook added a world title to his Olympic title and world record in the men’s 200m breast.
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