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Olympian Annie Lazor on how teammate Lilly King helped her after father's death

The teammates share a bond that goes beyond the swimming pool.
/ Source: TODAY

Annie Lazor and Lilly King's connection runs so much deeper than a love and passion for swimming.

The Olympians, who are currently competing together in Tokyo as part of Team USA, are also close friends who support each other outside of the pool.

Months before the Olympic trials, Lazor's father, David, died suddenly at the age of 61. In that moment, the swimmer didn't just lose her dad, though. She also lost one of the biggest supporters of her Olympic dream.

"My dad was the first one to always tell me that I'm so much more than my swimming successes," Lazor told TODAY. "It's not because he didn't care about my swimming; it's just that was such a miniscule part of who I was to him."

The swimmers who are friends inside and outside of the pool shared a meaningful moment at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials when when King turned to her friend and said "I love you, let's go get it."Tom Pennington / Getty Images

When it came time for her father's wake, Lazor was in need of an extra dose of support, and King was happy to be there for her teammate, driving five hours to visit her.

"She was talking to my mom and she promised my mom that she was going to do everything it took to put me on the team and she was going to put me through practice every day. That just showed me what a person she is; that meant the absolute world to me and to my mom," she said.

King, on the other hand, didn't think that her kind gesture was that big of a deal, and she was thrilled that she could help her friend.

"I really felt like she needed someone there that knew what she was going through in the present moment. So one of my teammates and I, we decided to drive up and just be here for her. And I think that was something she really appreciated," King told TODAY.

Lilly King and Annie Lazor grew closer after the death of Lazor's father. Lazor credits King for continuing to push her at practice and in the pool. The two are currently competing at the Tokyo Olympics.Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

Flash forward several months later, and the teammates are now competing in the Tokyo Olympics together. While reflecting on their bond, Lazor said she appreciates how sensitive and understanding King has been.

"She still treats me like a normal human but realizes what I'm going through. She's like I'm going to pull you through this ... I'm going to help you everyday and I'm going to help you in practice, that's my role here," she said.

Even though she's still grieving the loss of her father, Lazor feels his presence and his support as she continues to chase her dreams.

"When the stress and the anxiety becomes too much with this meet, it really just makes me think about what he thinks of me. That obviously he wants to see me accomplish my life dream and my goals, but at the end of the day, that's such a small part of who I am," said Lazor.

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