AUSTIN, Texas — IU Coach Ray Looze has called senior Lilly King the greatest female athlete in school history.
On Saturday at the NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships, King’s prolific college career came to an end.
"It’s good,” King said of her college career ending, "I can use my name, image and likeness in any way I’d like now."
"You don't replace Lilly King," Looze said. "That's a once in a generation, maybe once in a coaching lifetime."
King finishes her college career with eight NCAA breaststroke titles, the most by any woman in history. King has the most NCAA title in Big Ten history across all events. She won the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke each of her four years at the NCAA championships.
IU finished ninth overall at the meet, the fourth straight top-10 finish in team history. This is the first time in program history that IU has had a top-10 NCAA finish four straight years.
King never pulled away from the other swimmers the way she is accustomed to in the 200-yard breaststroke. The senior was able to hold off the field, winning the NCAA title in the event. The team swarmed King for a group hug after she won the event.
"Before the race I was like, 'I better not mess this up, it's my last one,' King said.
King and Looze, neither of who are big huggers, King said, embraced on the pool deck after her race.
"There's a reason it's never been done before," Looze said of King's eighth title.
Though King certainly did pull away in the 100-yard breaststroke. In February, King broke the women's 100-yard breaststroke at the Big Ten Championships in Bloomington. She broke her own record this weekend finishing with a time of 55.73 seconds.
Freshman Noelle Peplowski was sixth in the championship heat. She is the first IU freshman in the finals of an NCAA event since King. The 200-yard breaststroke marked somewhat of a passing of the torch. As King touched the wall for one final time as a Hoosier, Peplowski became the leader of the IU breaststroke group.
"Noelle is really, really good, we just thought she had a ton of talent," Looze said.
Senior diver Jessica Parratto bounced back from a bad second dive to place third overall in her final appearance in collegiate diving. The finish marks her third top-three finish at the NCAA championships.
"This whole experience has been unbelievable," Parratto said. "I would not trade it for the world."
Like King, Parratto will move on to compete as a professional. She said she has her sights set on the upcoming world championships and 2020 Olympics.
King and Parratto have led the IU women’s swim and dive program to heights it had never before seen. IU has 10 total top-10 finishes ever at the NCAA championships. King and Parratto have been a part of four of them.
King was the only individual NCAA champion for IU at the meet. The team came to Texas with the goal of posting the best finish in team history. That didn’t come to fruition as IU wasn’t able to match the success it had on the final night for the whole meet. IU wasn’t able to take advantage of its depth on the 100-yard breaststroke, sending just King to the finals.
Other notable IU performances included second in the 400-yard medley relay and fourth in the 200-yard medley relay.
The Hoosiers leave the meet with 19 total All-American honors distributed among 10 athletes.
Stanford University won the NCAA championship for the third year in a row, despite losing two Olympic gold medalists.