U.S. Olympic swimming trials: On a night for doubling up, Lilly King adds engagement ring

By PAUL NEWBERRY AP National Writer

INDIANAPOLIS — On a night for doubling up at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, Lilly King left with another big prize.

An engagement ring.

Ryan Murphy, Regan Smith, Kate Douglass and King all claimed a second individual event at the Paris Games with their performances Thursday in the temporary pool at Lucas Oil Stadium.

But the most dramatic moment came just off the deck.

King’s boyfriend, former Indiana University swimmer James Wells, pulled out a ring, dropped to a knee and asked her to marry him.

She said yes with a kiss and a big hug.

“I didn’t see it,” Murphy said. “That’s unbelievable. I’d love to hear her reaction to how it is to get proposed to completely out of breath and soaked. That’s incredible. She must be riding an absolute high.”

Murphy touched first in the men’s 200-meter backstroke, adding to his triumph in the 100 back. Smith won the women’s 200 butterfly after previously setting a world record in the 100 backstroke. And Douglass followed up her win a night earlier in the 100 freestyle with a victory in the 200 breaststroke.

King rallied to finish behind Douglass, edging Alex Walsh for the second U.S. spot at the Olympics. King had previously won the 100 breaststroke.

Murphy used his stunning underwater technique to hold off Keaton Jones and Jack Akins, finishing in 1 minute, 54.33 seconds. He punched the water in triumph when he saw his name atop the scoreboard for the second time in the meet.

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“The last 25, you’re just battling,” Murphy said. “Nothing feels good the last 25. It’s like, all right, how can hold this stroke together against the wall, get this done and finish the job?”

Jones claimed the second spot at the Olympics in 1:54.61, while it was another heartbreaking finish for Akins. He was third in 1:54.78, the same position he had in the 100 backstroke when he missed a Paris berth by two-hundredths of a second.

Smith trailed 17-year-old Alex Shackell at the final turn but rallied to win in 2:05.70. Shackell, from suburban Carmel, thrilled the home crowd by claiming an Olympic berth in 2:06.69

Shackell is heading to the Olympics with her 19-year-old brother Aaron, who made the team by winning the 400 freestyle on the opening night of the trials. Their father, Nick Shackell, represented Britain at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.

Douglass dominated the 200 breaststroke, going out under world-record pace over the first half of the race and finishing in 2:19.46.

“I’m really happy with both of those wins I’ve had so far,” Douglass said. “That was my goal coming into the meet. I was confident in myself, and I’m really happy I was able to pull it off.”

King was third at the final turn, but turned up the pace on the final lap for a runner-up finish of 2:21.93.

Walsh, a silver medalist in the 200 individual medley at Tokyo Olympics, failed to join her sister Gretchen on this Olympic team. Alex Walsh still has a shot to make the squad in the 200 IM, which begins Friday.

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Caeleb Dressel bounced back with the second-fastest time in the semifinals of the 50 freestyle, one night after a third-place finish in the 100 free cost him a chance to defend his Olympic title in that event.

Dressel will need to finish in the top two of the 50 free final Friday night to claim his first individual race of the Paris Games. The tattooed Floridian was one of the biggest stars in Tokyo, winning five gold medals, but he hasn’t been as dominant since returning from a long layoff.

There was another bit of drama at the end of the night.

After tying for eighth place in the 50 free semifinals, Adam Chaney and Jonny Kulow had a swim-off for the final spot in the final.

But they tied for a second time at 21.79, forcing another swim-off after many fans had headed for the exits.

Finally, the matter was settled when Chaney touched in 21.81 to eliminate Kulow, who finished at 21.99.

Chaney emphatically splashed the water before reaching over the rope to console Kulow.

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