Lilly King still remembers the first time she won a race before it started.
“This story’s actually kinda ridiculous,” she says, and then launches in.
She was 12, or thereabouts, on an outdoor pool deck in Vincennes, Indiana, preparing for a famous local swim meet, the “Big Bang at the Beach.” A longtime age-group peer approached from a neighboring lane, and wished Lilly good luck, as innocently and kindly as could be.
Lilly, though, had a unique interpretation.
She dashed through the pool, touched the wall first, then explained to her mom: “That girl conceded to me.”
“Whadya mean?” Ginny King asked her daughter.
“She told me good luck,” Lilly said, matter-of-factly. “I knew I was gonna win before I got in the water.”
In retrospect, of course, King realizes: “She was just being a nice, normal person. But in my head, I was like, ‘Oh, you’re done.’ ” And she, that poor little 12-year-old girl, would be the first of many.