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Lilly King prepares for third Olympic swimming bid with career endpoint in mind

Lilly King, a five-time Olympic medalist and 11-time world champion breaststroker, plans to make the Paris Games her final Olympics, should she make the team at June’s trials, though it will not be the last overall competition of her career.

“I do not want to go to 2028,” she said Friday of the next Games in Los Angeles. “I’m not going to be done after this Olympics, but I will be watching 2028 definitely.”

King, 27, said she has a competitive endpoint in mind, which she will publicly share later.

"(After competing) I’m going to relax and learn how to be a normal human and do (swim) clinics for a while. That’s my plan,” she said. “I’m going to be Lilly King as long as they allow me to be Lilly King and hopefully get to spread some of my knowledge and what the sport has given me back to the swimming community.”

King, an Indiana native, will be one of the home favorites at the Olympic Trials at the Indianapolis Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium, where the top two in her events — the 100m and 200m breaststrokes — make the team for the Paris Games.

Growing up in Evansville, she drove past the stadium en route to swim meets one mile northwest at the Indiana University Natatorium.

“It was like, oh, I see Lucas Oil, it’s time to swim fast,” said King, who won eight NCAA breaststroke titles in her four years at Indiana, where she still trains.

She made every U.S. team since sweeping the 100m and 200m breaststrokes at the 2016 Olympic Trials following her freshman year in Bloomington, then winning 100m breast gold at the Rio Games over Russian rival Yuliya Yefimova.

King captured a world title in all three breaststrokes — 50m, 100m and 200m — and has owned the 100m breast world record since 2017.

At the Tokyo Olympics, she took 100m breast bronze (behind breakout Alaskan winner Lydia Jacoby) and 200m breast silver, sharing the podium with close friend Annie Lazor, the bronze medalist.

King placed fourth in the 100m and 200m breaststrokes at last July’s world championships.

Her three individual Olympic breaststroke medals are one shy of the American record shared by Amanda Beard and Rebecca Soni. King also owns gold and silver from 4x100m medley relays.

On Thursday, Jacoby won a 100m breast race over King at a Tyr Pro Series meet in San Antonio. King still retained the nation’s best time this year from a meet in January.

“I’m about where I was last year at this time and ended up swimming really well at nationals (in 2023),” King said. “I’m where I need to be.”

NBC Sports’ Andy Dougherty contributed to this report from San Antonio.

The 2024 U.S. Olympic team roster of athletes updated as they qualify.