BUDAPEST, Hungary — Lilly King’s performance marked another notch for the finger-wagging American in her rivalry with Russian star Yulia Efimova.
King won gold at the Rio Olympics last summer after spurning Efimova and brazenly proclaiming she had no business being allowed to compete because of doping violations.
Efimova nearly broke Ruta Meilutyte’s 4-year-old record in the semifinals, giving her the prime lane in the middle of the pool.
But King, racing right beside her, was the one who came through when it really counted. She got off to a blistering start and led all the way, touching in 1 minute, 4.13 seconds to shave 0.22 off the Lithuanian’s mark from the 2013 worlds in Barcelona.
King defiantly pounded the water when she saw the time, then turned to congratulate the runner-up — American teammate Katie Meili, who edged out the Russian for the silver.
Efimova hung on the lane rope, all alone and managing a weak smile, as if she couldn’t believe the Indiana college student had beaten her again.
In all, five world records have been set in Budapest.