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Sport Lilly King, Annie Lazor bonded by promise at Olympic Swimming Trials

10:30  19 june  2021
10:30  19 june  2021 Source:   nbcsports.com

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But Annie Lazor , who finished third in the 100m breast on Tuesday to miss the team by one spot, gets one final shot to make her first Olympics in Friday’s 200m breast final. They’re bonded by more than all those laps in the pool. On April 25, Lazor ’s father, David, died suddenly at home. “He lavished love on his daughter Annie and encouraged her big dreams,” an obituary read. “They traveled together to many swim meets where he was her ardent cheerleader – win or lose, he always let her know that she is so much more than her athletic accomplishments.”

Lilly King was already the overwhelming favorite for Olympic gold in the women’s 100 breast, entering the summer as the defending Olympic gold medalist, two-time world champion and world record-holder, and she further extended her margin with a brilliant semifinal performance. The time was the eighth-quickest performance in history, with only King , Ruta Meilutyte, Yulia Efimova and Jessica Hardy having ever been quicker. But just as notable was the second-place finisher in the heat. Annie Lazor , King ’s training partner at Indiana, swam a 1:05.37 to clobber her previous best time of 1:05.92 (set

Lilly King, the world’s best breaststroker, qualified for the Olympics earlier this week. That was never in doubt.

But Annie Lazor, who finished third in the 100m breast on Tuesday to miss the team by one spot, had one final shot to make her first Olympics in Friday’s 200m breast final.

She delivered, leading a one-two with King, her training partner the last three years in Bloomington, Indiana. Lazor, at 26, is going to Tokyo along with King, who made it in both breaststrokes. They’re bonded by more than all those laps in the pool.

On April 25, Lazor’s father, David, died suddenly at home.

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Lilly King and Annie Lazor have established themselves as the leading contenders to earn berths to the Tokyo Games in the 200 breaststroke. Each day during the pre-scheduled days of the 2020 US Olympic Trials , Swimming World will take its readers back four years to the 2016 Trials in Omaha to recap each event, and will offer some insight into what the events will look like in 2021. Much like the women’s 200 IM field, the women’s 200 breast is one of the most stacked races ahead of the Olympic Trials .

Lilly King , an Olympic gold medalist, and Lydia Jacoby, an Alaskan, finished one-two in the 100m breaststroke at the Olympic Trials . In other finals, 19-year-old Regan Smith won the 100m backstroke, an event where she held the world record until Sunday. Smith clocked 58.35 seconds, nine tenths off the new record set by Kaylee McKeown at the Australian Olympic Trials on Sunday. Rhyan White, who ranked 41st in the nation in 2019, took second in 58.60, edging world bronze medalist Olivia Smoliga.

“He lavished love on his daughter Annie and encouraged her big dreams,” an obituary read. “They traveled together to many swim meets where he was her ardent cheerleader – win or lose, he always let her know that she is so much more than her athletic accomplishments.”

King drove five hours north to the visitation in Michigan. There, she made a promise to Lazor’s mom.

“That she was going to do everything it took to put me on the [Olympic] team, and she was going to pull me through practice every day,” Lazor told NBC Sports before Olympic Trials. “That meant the absolute world to me and to my mom.”

King followed through every day for the next two months. She pushed Lazor as a training partner. She distracted her as a friend with silly stories.

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The reigning Olympic champion delighted herself – and perhaps startled international peers – when she won her semifinal of the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:04.72 at the U.S. Olympic Trials . She punched the water in exuberance because it is a time she has not seen in years. King , 24, the Indiana University graduate from Evansville, finished nearly a body length ahead of her Bloomington training partner, Annie Lazor , whose time was 1:05.37. No. 4 qualifier is also a Hoosier, Mishawaka native Bethany Galat, at 1:05.96. “Honestly, my plan was to take it out fast and hang on for dear life.

Lilly King expected to win. She always expects to win. That confidence doesn’t come easy to most, and it wasn’t easy for King , but she finally figured out a mindset that works for her. “I love those high-pressure situations. I go in confident and I know what is going to happen even if everyone else doesn’t,” Lilly King said. King became a two-time Olympian by winning the 100-meter breaststroke on Tuesday in Omaha at the Olympic trials . That she was sure of, even if the race itself didn’t go as well as she had hoped. What she wasn’t sure of was who would be joining her on the journey to Tokyo.

“She’s being authentically Lilly by doing that,” Lazor said of King, known for her brash comments and intimidation on the starting blocks, but also for teaching middle school PE, eating a Happy Meal each week in her college days and wearing Crocs everywhere. “That’s what’s really helped me kind of humanize her the last few months.”

At age 26, Lazor was trying to become the oldest American woman to qualify for her first Olympic team in the pool in 17 years.

SWIM TRIALS: Results | TV Schedule | Women’s Event Previews | Men’s Event Previews

She failed in her first chance Tuesday night, when King won the 100m breast and qualified to defend her Olympic title in Tokyo. The 17-year-old Alaskan Lydia Jacoby took second.

“I honestly felt kind of bad because I could tell Lilly was excited to make her second Olympic team, but she was just as heartbroken for me,” Lazor said. “That says everything that you need to know about our relationship, about how she wants me to be there with her for those amazing moments.”

Murphy, Regan Smith win backstroke races at US swim trials

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Olympic and World Champion Lilly King was SwimSwam’s 2020 U.S. Swimmer of the Year because the global pandemic did not slow her down. King crushed her competition over ISL’s second season representing the Cali Condors. At USA Swimming ’s most recent Pro Swim Series in San Antonio King swept the 100 and 200 breaststroke, but she was edged by Emily Escobedo at the Richmond Pro Swim . There’s a good chance that 2:22.0 won’t get it done at Trials this year. Both Annie Lazor and Emily Escobedo are swimming very, very well, and both have been that fast or better.

World record-holders Lilly King and Ryan Murphy will chase repeat gold in Tokyo after victories on Tuesday in the US Olympic swimming trials . Behind her however, familiar rivals Bethany Galat and Annie Lazor were overhauled by 17-year-old Lydia Jacoby, who finished second in 1:05.28 to give Alaska it's first US swimming Olympian . "It's kind of what I expected coming in," King said. "But I did not expect Lydia to have that race and I'm excited to have a new training partner and excited to see what we can do."

Four years ago, Lazor was what they call a swammer. She quit after missing the Rio Olympic team in both breaststrokes, graduated from Auburn and took an operations internship in the Cal-Berkeley athletic department.

Lazor, feeling the itch to give it one more shot, returned to the pool after a year away in 2017. She eventually worked up the guts to ask if she could train with the world’s best breaststroker.

King and her coach, Ray Looze, welcomed Lazor into their training group in April 2018. By the end of the year, Lazor won a world short-course championship.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Lilly,” Lazor said in 2019, according to Swimming World. “Honestly, given what I thought I knew about her prior to that, I was pretty surprised. Lilly, obviously, has somewhat of a reputation. I would think if it were my competitor and she had this program that’s working really well for her, why would you want to share that with her other competitors?”

In 2019, Lazor took 1.86 seconds off her 100m breast personal best. She chopped 4.19 seconds off her best 200m breast time from before leaving the sport. She finished the year ranked Nos. 2 and 3 in the world in the events after never previously ranking in the top 10.

Ryan Lochte, 5 wild years on from Rio, now one swim away from 5th Olympics

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“I was good,” in the past, Lazor said on a podcast with retired Australian swimmer Brett Hawke, “but I wasn’t that name that everyone knew.”

After finishing third on Tuesday, Lazor allowed herself to be sad.

“I think it’s pretty valid for me to be upset given I swam the third-fastest time in the world but got third to two other people in my country. That sucks,” Lazor said Thursday. “It was time to turn a new leaf when I woke up this morning.

“This [200m breast] is my best event. I’m really protective over this event.”

In Rio, King failed to make the 200m breast final after winning the 100m breast. She made it a goal to improve in the longer distance. She was asked Thursday night, after swimming the top 200m breast semifinal time, how she prepared over the last year for one of the sport’s toughest events.

“Honestly, just keep racing Annie in practice,” she said. “She is a much, much better long-course breaststroke trainer than I am.”

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Lilly King, Annie Lazor bonded by promise at Olympic Swimming Trials originally appeared on NBCSports.com

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