Lilly King ready for ‘awkward’ first encounter with Yulia Efimova at worlds

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Lilly King doesn’t know how she’ll react when she sees Yulia Efimova for the first time since the Rio Olympics next week.

King does know this: There is nothing she wants to say to her Russian rival at the world championships in Budapest.

“I’ll let my swimming do the talking,” King said in a phone interview from the U.S. swim team’s training camp in Croatia on Tuesday. “It’s obviously going to be very awkward, that first encounter, but it’s going to happen. I’m ready for it.”

King and Efimova, after King won their memorable Rio Olympic 100m breast duel, should be in close proximity throughout next week.

They’re the top two seeds in all three breaststrokes, meaning they could face off for gold in finals Tuesday (100m breast), next Friday (200m breast) and the last Sunday (50m breast). A full broadcast schedule is here.

Yes, King is aware of the world rankings.

“I’ve checked it, and I’m honestly totally fine with it,” she said. “That’s about what I expected. Nobody else can really swim with us, in my opinion. I’m excited to race her again, excited for more of our rivalry to continue.”

King feels differently than a year ago, when she made her major international meet debut in Rio. Whereas Efimova had won world titles in the 100m and 200m breaststrokes between the London and Rio Games.

“I guess I kind of have a target on my back now,” King said. “I was a nobody last summer.”

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