Katie Meili so far is staying out of the controversy over Russian Yulia Efimova’s inclusion in the 100-meter breaststroke.
While Meili’s U.S. teammate, Lilly King was wagging her finger at Efimova on Sunday night and Efimova was wagging it back, Meili declared Efimova’s last-minute entry changed nothing for her.
Even though Efimova, as the defending world champion, is another top medal contender in her way.
“It’s something that’s completely out of my control,” the Fort Worth Nolan Catholic graduate said. “So it is what it is. At this point, we just have to focus on ourselves and not worry about it too much. I’m here to swim my race and not anyone else’s.”
Meili’s time of 1:06.52 tied her for third in her heat and fifth overall. King swam a 1:05.70 in the semifinal to top the field, with Efimova posting the second-fastest time in 1:05.72.
It was slower than the 1:06.00 Meili had in the preliminaries Sunday morning, which was third fastest behind King and Efimova.
“Tonight was about setting up tomorrow,” said Meili, a first-time Olympian. “This morning I raced really hard. Tonight I pulled way back. … I need to find some sweet spot in between the two.”
The final is Monday night.
“It’s just really amazing and exciting,” she said. “It’s just really a big dream come true. So it’ll be really fun.”
Meili, a 2009 high school graduate, was well aware of the watch party Nolan Catholic was having for her.
“It’s really cool,” said Meili, a former Columbia University standout who trains in Charlotte. N.C. “It’s really nice to see a lot of people still supporting me from home. I haven’t lived there in like seven years, but it’s still like really nice.”