GWANGJU, South Korea (AP) — American Lilly King was disqualified from the 200-meter breaststroke preliminaries at the world swimming championships on Thursday.
King won the third heat in 2 minutes, 24.56 seconds, 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 was to be heard later Thursday.
King’s time would have qualified her second-fastest for the evening semifinals 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.
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 100 over Russian rival Yulia 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.
If King was to win reinstatement, she would bump Suyeon Back of South Korea, who qualified in the 16th and last spot for the evening semifinals.
King’s DQ recalled a similar situation involving Aaron Peirsol in the 200 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.
This story was originally published on July 25, 2019