The 2016 Summer Olympics have been cloaked in doping scandals, but still hold the hope of many athletes. Among them, Lilly King and Conor Dwyer, who won two medals for the US, with King winning gold in the 100 meter women’s breaststroke and Dwyer snagging bronze in the men’s 200 meter freestyle.
The US Swim Team has been a favorite for the Olympic Games in Rio. With great showings in the London Games in 2012, they were the ones to beat coming into the Rio Olympic Games. US swimmers King and Dwyer and fellow swimmers Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky were expected to make history, and they did not disappoint.
The US Swim Team made strong showings in the qualifiers that got them to the Rio Olympic Games, setting a number of world records on their way. Those records set the bar high for the 2016 Games and prepared US Olympic fans for an exciting competition.
Even with a significant amount of excitement, King’s showing in the 100 meter women’s breaststroke at the Rio Games was shrouded in controversy because of the inclusion of Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova, who was cited for doping before the Games. King even called the Russian swimmer out on this fact.
“You’re shaking your finger ‘No. 1’ and you’ve been caught for drug cheating,” said King in an interview with NBC.
Russia was notably booed when they marched in at the Opening Ceremonies of the Rio Olympic Games. The response from the crowd was due to recent news that a sizable number of Russia’s Olympic athletes were caught doping by the International Olympic Committee. Efimova, one of the athletes investigated by the IOC, was issued two suspensions in the 24 months leading up to the Olympic games. Her reinstatement came just one week before the Rio Olympic Games and was viewed as an unconventional move by the Committee. King’s calling her out and then winning showed a dominance of classic sportsmanship that many fans of the Olympics watch for. For King, though, the process was just her being who she is.
“That’s kind of my personality,” she told NBC. “If I do need to stir it up to put a little fire under my butt or anybody else’s, then that’s what I’m going to do.”
For Dwyer, his challenge in the Rio Olympic Games came by going up against Olympic record holder Sun Yang and London 2012 favorite, Chad le Clos in the 200 meter men’s freestyle. Dwyer made a name for himself as part of the London 2012 Games swimming dream-team that brought home Gold for their winning meet in the 4×200 men’s relay. Although le Clos came into the competition as the favorite, Dwyer was able to hold his own in the competition and landed his bronze medal by being just three seconds behind the South African favorite.
Dwyer is no stranger to the pressure the Olympics bring. The time he spent qualifying for the London 2012 Games and the Rio 2016 Games was what prepared him for the high-intensity competition of the Rio Olympic Games.
“That event, Olympic trials, I thought sometimes even more challenging than the Olympics itself,” he told NBC Chicago.
The Rio Olympic Games are the pinnacle of success for many athletes. The US Swim Team is no exception, with many of them pursuing world and Olympic records for their time in the water during competition and the medals won as a result. The Games in Rio have served as a first many of these world-class competitors, but swimmers like King and Dwyer in the mix round out the teams with unmatched experience.
The medals that King and Dwyer won are two of the 19 — and counting — that the US will bring home from the Rio Olympic Games.
[Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images]