GWANGJU, South Korea (AP) — Lilly King was disqualified from the 200m breaststroke for touching the wall illegally in her preliminary heat at the world swimming championships.
King won the third preliminary heat in 2 minutes, 24.56 seconds, on Thursday morning but was disqualified for not touching the wall with both hands at the same time in the first turn of the four-lap race, according to USA Swimming.
The U.S. team filed a formal protest, which was denied by FINA’s appeals process. The matter was then escalated to a jury of appeal at the Americans’ request, and the jury upheld the DQ two hours before Thursday evening’s semifinals, which King watched from the stands while wearing swim goggles.
King had the second-fastest prelims time behind Canada’s Sydney Pickrem, who led the way in 2:24.53.
King reacted with shock upon seeing ‘DSQ’ next to her name on the video board. She said she wasn’t told why she had been disqualified although she asked the officials. Michael Phelps, too, was wondering what happened.
On-deck judges supervise each lane to observe whether swimmers are simultaneously touching the wall.
It was a big blow for King, who was aiming for a sweep of the breaststroke titles in Gwangju. She already won the 100m over Russian rival Yuliya Efimova.
Swimming in the last heat, Efimova said she was a bit nervous after seeing the DQ.
“I’m actually always thinking about this because some people make some stuff and nothing happen, but I know if a Russian do something, it’s always like …,” she said, making a kicking motion with her foot.
King’s DQ recalled a similar situation involving Aaron Peirsol in the 200m backstroke final at the 2004 Athens Olympics. The American was disqualified for making an illegal turn while finishing first. The decision was overturned, and he received the gold medal.
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