Arena Signs Alaskan Olympic Champion Lydia Jacoby Under New NCAA Rules

by SwimSwam Partner Content 23

November 19th, 2021 News

courtesy of arena, a SwimSwam partner

arena has announced the signing of 17-year-old phenom and Olympic breaststroke champion, Lydia Jacoby, the brand’s first sponsorship deal under the new NCAA NIL (name, image and likeness) rules that came into effect on July 1st, 2021.

On July 27th, 2021, the teenage native Alaskan stunned the swimming world by coming from behind to win Gold in the Olympic 100m breaststroke, besting both the current world record holder and the strong favorite for the title. It was the culmination of a meteoric rise through the elite swimming ranks that started back at the USA Swimming Winter Nationals in 2018, when Lydia first made the cut for US Olympic Swimming Trials at just 14 years old.

Lydia was a leap-year baby, born in Anchorage on February 29th, 2004, and raised in the small seaside town of Seward (pop. 2,796) that her family has called home for the past 30 years. She started swimming at the age of 6 with her local swim team, the Seward Tsunami Swim Club, and by the time she was 12, she had broken her first Alaska state record. She continued breaking state records and winning state titles with the Seward High School swim team and became junior national champion in the 100 breaststroke at the USA Swimming Junior National Championships in 2019.

With the postponement of the Olympics due to the Covid pandemic, Lydia’s training was severely restricted when her home pool closed for nearly 6 months from March to September of 2020. She and her father, with the help of her coach Solomon D’Amico, had to build a makeshift weight rack at home until a facility in Anchorage began to partially reopen in May of 2020, 2.5 hours and 120 miles from Seward, when her family rented an apartment in the hopes of restoring some degree of normalcy to an otherwise chaotic training schedule.

Undeterred by these challenges, she returned to the pool faster than ever, consistently posting personal bests, and breaking National Age Group records twice at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, where she finished second in the 100m breaststroke to become the first Alaskan swimmer in history to make the US Olympic Team.

Swimming in lane 3 in the Tokyo 100m breaststroke final, Lydia turned at the halfway stage in third place, before powering home in the last 20 meters with a time of 1:04.95. Over the course of just 3 years, she had slashed more than 6 seconds off her personal best, and in claiming her maiden Olympic title, became only the sixth female swimmer in history to break 1:05 in 100m breaststroke.

Four days later she swam the fastest breaststroke leg in the field by over half a second (1:05.03) as the US women’s 4×100 medley relay team picked up a silver medal. And in the 4×100 mixed medley relay, she swam the second fastest time of her life despite an equipment malfunction within the first few meters of her race when her goggles slipped down her face diving off the block; the US team finished fifth.

Support for Lydia across Alaska was passionate, none more so than in her hometown of Seward, where various “Go Lydia” watch parties erupted as she touched the wall first in her Olympic breaststroke victory. Upon her return home, she was greeted by adoring fans and celebrated with a parade. Following the euphoria of her Tokyo triumph, she has now turned her sights to the FINA World Short Course Championships in Abu Dhabi from December 16-21, and then it will be back to the books, as she completes her high school senior year. Following that, the University of Texas in Austin awaits, along with coach Carol Capitani and the Women’s Longhorn Swimming Team, a program sponsored by arena.

Standout performances at the highest level tend to garner recognition, and Lydia’s are no different – she has been nominated for three Golden Goggles Awards, USA Swimming’s annual ceremony celebrating the swimming year: Breakout Performer of the Year, Female Race of the Year, and Female Athlete of the Year. In a career that has only just begun, it seems likely that these will be the first of many more.

“The last year has been incredible, full of big moments like winning Olympic Gold,” said Lydia. “I’m so thrilled to continue this amazing time in my life by signing with arena. In addition to having products I love and use, it’s a dream come true to be working with such a wonderful team and company. I can’t wait to share the next chapter in my journey with the Arena family!”

“We couldn’t be happier to add Lydia to our team,” says Mark Pinger, GM of arena North America. “Clearly she is an extraordinary talent, as the past year has shown, but there’s also so much more to her: she’s determined, courageous, positive, upbeat, these attributes are part of her core, as they are with arena, and we couldn’t be more optimistic about this partnership.  Having just had the amazing opportunity to spend time with Lydia and her family in her home town of Seward, we are equally excited about Lydia the person as we are about Lydia the swimmer and we believe she will be a great ambassador for the sport.  Seeing her setup with access to only a 25 yard pool, we believe her future in swimming will be very bright and we consider ourselves lucky to be by her side and support her as we emerge from a period that has been very difficult for all.”

Lydia Jacoby – BY THE NUMBERS

Born: 29 February, 2004; Anchorage, Alaska, USA
Discipline: Breaststroke
Coach/Club: Solomon D’Amico, Seward Tsunami Swim Club

2020 Olympic Games, Tokyo
Gold: 100m breaststroke
Silver: 4x100m medley relay

2021 Swimming World Cup
Berlin – Silver: 50m breaststroke
Bronze: 100m breaststroke
Budapest – Silver: 50m & 100m breaststroke

Beyond the Pool Deck:
Sang and played double bass as part of a bluegrass band named the Snow River String Band, performing at the Anchorage Folk Festival multiple times. Also plays guitar and piano.
Plans to study textile & apparel fashion design at the University of Texas.

See arena North America here.

Follow Arena USA on Instagram here.

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8 months ago

I am surprised by this. All I have seen her in the last few months (including Olympics) was Speedo.

8 months ago

Does this mean that Michael Andrew would be allowed to swim in a college program if he wanted too?

Reply to  Cobalt
8 months ago

No. NILs don’t allow athletes to accept prize money.

8 months ago

Really awesome they can make some money now!

I’m confused about how these suit/equipment NIL endorsements work with the contracts brands have the schools. But maybe it doesn’t matter.

Reply to  Xman
8 months ago

Texas does not have a suit sponsor.

CJ Johnson
8 months ago

Congratulations to her, but she is not an Alaskan native. Being from Alaska does not make her Alaskan native, that has a different meaning.

Reply to  CJ Johnson
8 months ago

Native has multiple meanings. She is a native but not indigenous.
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Reply to  CJ Johnson
8 months ago

If you don’t get out of here with that negative attitude

Reply to  CJ Johnson
8 months ago

In all fairness to CJ, the term native in Alaska holds a lot of meaning, probably more so than most other states. Up here saying “native Alaskan” almost exclusively refers to someone of indigenous Alaskan heritage.
With that being said, it is a really unimportant point. Everyone in Alaska is very proud of Lydia! Truly amazing.

Swimmer A
8 months ago

Get dat money, it’s yours

caeleb’s leg sleeve tat
8 months ago


8 months ago

Cullen Jones was also a leap year baby, if I remember correctly. What a fun coincidence that there have been two USA gold medalists in the last 10 years with February 29th birthdays!

Reply to  thezwimmer
8 months ago

Jessica Long is another leap year baby too.

Congrats Lydia
8 months ago

My question is what is she going to do about her pink good luck goggles? Aren’t those Speedo??

Reply to  Congrats Lydia
8 months ago

I mean the good luck thing was fun for a while, but…they slipped off during the medley relay. So maybe she’s ready for a change anyway.

If I were Arena, I’d figure out a way to play off of that and sort of ‘rebrand’ the superstition in Arena goggles. Like make a special limited edition line of Lydia Jacoby pink goggles.

NornIron Swim
Reply to  Braden Keith
8 months ago

Didn’t Jessica Hardy say somewhere she’d given her the goggles a few years ago when she did a clinic?

Mediocre Swammer
Reply to  NornIron Swim
8 months ago

Obviously, an arena-sponsored swimmer Lydia looks up to needs to bequeath her a “new” pair of lucky goggles.

Congrats Lydia
Reply to  Braden Keith
8 months ago

I guess that’s a possibility. On the podcast she did with Colman it sounded to me like she didn’t want to ditch them even after the accident, but I suppose I don’t know the full story.