Her love in the water started at the age of seven.
Born and raised on the west side of Evansville, Lilly King has taken her ability to swim really fast from Reitz High School, to Bloomington at Indiana University, all the way to Rio de Janiero where she faces the biggest test of her life next week.
The Olympic opening ceremony is just two days away. Shortley after, the west side favorite will swim for gold. She’s not doing it alone though. Some of her biggest west side fans are showing their love 5,000 miles away.
“We’re a different group,” says Rick Decker, “if you weren’t born on the west side or raised on the west side, you just don’t know what it’s like.”
The pride runs deep for Decker, a 59-year veteran of the west side.
He has a lot of time invested pool-side. His daughter swam for Reitz six years ago, and seems to have chlorine running through his veins.
Like Lilly, Decker’s daughter started swimming early.
“She was like, 6 years-old, we were in Florida, and this guy goes, ‘”You need to get her in lessons.’” Decker took the gentleman’s advice, and the rest for his daughter is history.
But Lilly made leaps beyond what many imagined and now she’s swimming for Olympic gold. She’s setting record times, and there’s a good chance she’ll bring it home.
King has a schedule spread out over next week for two events, in the 100 and 200 meter breaststroke. She’ll swim on Sunday and with a final on Monday, and again on Wednesday with a final on Thursday.
But even with all she’s accomplished, there’s still something more Lily really wants.
As the chairman of the West Side Nut Club Fall Festival, Decker says he got a call from the Mayor with a request – and didn’t hesitate to make it happen.
“She wanted to be in the West Side Nut Club parade.”
Lilly King will be front and center as this year’s grand marshal.
The hope is she’ll have some hardware around her neck in a shade of gold to accompany.