In March an era ended as Lilly King swam for the final time as a collegian. The Olympic hero capped off her historic career by winning the NCAA Championship in the 200 breaststroke, earning All-American honors for the 16th time in four years. Alongside King in the pool for that final swim was a teammate, a freshman who earned her first career All-American honor as King earned her last—Noelle Peplowski.
The Illinois native finished sixth in the event, posting a personal best time of 2:06.94, edging out her previous best, her NCAA preliminary performance, by nearly eight-tenths of a second. She did this on the biggest stage of her career as the first IU freshman to compete in an NCAA championship race since, who else, King.
This doesn’t mean that Peplowski will replace King. After all, you don’t just replace a special athlete like that, you nearly never can. What it shows though is that Peplowski is capable of being an important piece of the IU swimming and diving program as it moves forward.
It wasn’t only at the NCAA Championships where she made an impact. She also medaled in the 200 breaststroke at the Big Ten Championships in February, winning bronze and helping the Hoosiers to their first team championship since 2011 and their sixth all-time. She also had an impact in dual meets as a member of multiple winning relay teams.
All of this experience as just a freshman will allow Peplowski to become a leader for IU moving forward. When the Hoosiers return to the pool for their 2019-20 season she’ll be one of just five returning All-Americans on the team.