No one who knows Lilly King was surprised at all.
"I learned a long time ago not to doubt her when she sounds so sure," her mother Ginny King said.
After the Indiana Invitational in November, where King posted the third fastest time in American history in the 100 breaststroke, the star IU senior set a goal for herself. She was going to become the first woman to break 56 seconds, and she was going to do it in her home pool.
Tapering typically involves weeks of high intensity, but low volume of work. Swimmers will undergo this type of training in advance of major meets, as swimmers look to post their best times.
Though in the weeks before the Big Ten Women's Swimming and Diving Championships, King said that she wasn't going to taper. King lifted weights Monday ahead of the meet. It was far from the type of routine that leads to record times.
That didn't matter to King.
On Friday, when King jumped into the pool for her final 100 breaststroke race in Bloomington, she quickly pulled out to a comfortable lead over the rest of the field, as she always does.
Fans at the Counsilman Billingsley Aquatic Center roared as King stormed down the final 25 yards of the race.
King touched the wall easily ahead of the other swimmers, and as if on a swivel, every head turned to look at the clock.
55.88 flashed up on the screen.
A new American record.
When King saw her time, she slapped the water in celebration. She had finally accomplished her goal.
“Making history here, at my home, with all my parents and my friends' parents and everybody watching, I was meant to do it here," King said.
IU Coach Ray Looze knew that even without tapering, King could break the American record.
"I could tell, when she went 55 on the relay, I knew it was possible. I've known 55 was possible for a while. I was telling Lilly, '56 is slow.' And she's the first woman to go 56."
King became the third woman to have won the Big Ten title in the 100 breaststroke four times.
The following night, King made history again.
In her final swim at home, King won the 200 breaststroke. King's win didn't have a record time, but it did mark the additions to King's resume.
By winning the 200 breaststroke, King became the first woman to ever win the Big Ten title in the 200 breaststroke four times, and also became the first woman to sweep the two breaststroke events at the Big Ten championships all four years. The win brings King up to 16 total Big Ten titles.
The win also all but clinched something King had never won before: a team title. With the points IU racked up in the 200 breaststroke, the Big Ten title for the Hoosiers was basically a done deal.
King left her final home meet not just setting records as an individual, but as a team champion.
"We're here, we're home," King said. "We talked about it all year, defending our turf, protecting our home. We did it. It's nuts, I can't even put it to words."
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