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 longtime boyfriend, former Morse High and 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.


King rallied to finish behind Douglass in the 200-meter breaststroke, edging Alex Walsh for the second U.S. spot at the Olympics. King had previously won the 100 breaststroke, an event in which she earned an Olympic gold medal in 2016.

On her way to the warm-down area, King was greeted by Wells, a former Maine swimmer of the year who competed at the Olympic trials in 2012, 2016 and 2021.

News of the engagement quickly spread around the arena.

“I didn’t see it,” said Murphy, a four-time Olympic gold medalist. “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 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 another victory.

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.


“The last 25, you’re just battling,” Murphy said. “Nothing feels good the last 25. It’s like, all right, how can I 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 the Tokyo Olympics, was unable to join her sister, Gretchen, on this Olympic team, though she still has a shot to make the squad in the 200 IM.

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