If you have ever had the opportunity to race or meet Madison Jacobi you know her as a fierce competitor complemented by a kind heart. I was honored enough to grow up racing in the same division as well as training and competing with Jacobi at Florida State. Over the years, I have gained an immense amount of respect for Jacobi not just for her record breaking swims but for her work ethic and her professionalism as a student athlete. Jacobi led the distance group upon her arrival to Tallahassee even at times besting distance swimmers from both the women’s and men’s roster at practice. She is known by as “the workhorse of the team” allowing for her training to speak for itself and help inspire those around her. Never one of many words those at Florida State understood that when Jacobi spoke members of both teams knew to heed her message.
Madison Jacobi’s Etsy Page:
Madison Jacobi’s Donor Page:
This year at the women’s ACC and NCAA championships a prominent name in distance swimming was missing from the psych sheet and results. All-American Madison Jacobi of Florida State had been battling with health issues during the long course season which carried through this past college season. Madison was gracious enough to allow us to post her personal story here on Swimswam. Jacobi was able to speak on her prognosis, long-term potential for a return to swimming, and her summer training plans.
” The blessing and curse of lupus is that every case is completely different. It’s hard to guess what your body is going to decide to do on any given day. But I’ve never exactly been the type of person to accept limitations. Out of high school, I said I wanted to be top 8 at NCAA’s. Last year I was 9th by 3 seconds in the mile, so I definitely still have goals I want to achieve. I’m on medication that’s been working and I’m learning how to listen to my body. I don’t want people to look back and say “oh, she was good until she got sick.” I want people to remember that even with an autoimmune disease, I still accomplished great things. I’m determined to get back in shape this summer and finish my career in a way that I can be proud of.”
Coming out of high school, Jacobi was a two-time high school state champion for the Harrison Hoyas having won the 200 and 500 freestyle at the 2012 6A Georgia High School State Championships. She swam as a member of the Marietta Marlins where she trained under coach Yit Aun Lim for her club swimming career.
With the help of Lim, Jacobi made a name for herself at the 2012 NCSA junior nationals placing 5th in the 200 meter freestyle as well as taking bronze in the 400 and 800 meter freestyle behind current world record holder Katie Lendecky. She would ultimately not follow in her mother’s footsteps by committing to Florida State University over the University of Georgia.
In her freshman season swimming under Neil Harper and Kirk Hampleman Jacobi thrived for the Seminoles breaking the school record by placing 4th in the 500 free (4:41.85) and 6th in the 1650 (16:23.56) at her first ACC championships. Her swims qualified Jacobi for NCAA’s earning All-American honors with the 800 freestyle relay team and earning freshman of the year honors from the Seminole coaching staff.
Jacobi would continue her re-writing of the Florida State record books in her sophomore campaign under coaches Frank Bradley and Matt Mcvittie. Jacobi would better her freshman year ACC’s sweeping the distance record books of the Seminoles collecting a bronze medal in the 500 (4:37.77). In her mile at the championships, Jacobi would re-set her 1000 record flipping at 9:41.50 and touching the wall third (16:02.92) adding another bronze medal to the weekend. At NCAA’s Jacobi would earn All-American honors again at the 2014 championships placing 9th in the mile (16:01.09) setting new 1000 and 1650 freestyle records in the process.
Unfortunately at the beginning of her junior year in Tallahassee Jacobi could tell something was not right. She battled through workouts not holding the pace her and her coaching staff had come accustomed to. After battling through the first half of the season, Jacobi returned home to her family. During her time in Atlanta, she underwent medical testing to see what had been ailing her.
Madison’s tests came back positive for Lupus. Lupus – also known as systemic lupus erythematosus – is a disease of the immune system. Normally, the immune system protects the body from infection. In lupus, however, the immune system inappropriately attacks tissues in various parts of the body. This abnormal activity leads to tissue damage, illness, and prolonged or extreme fatigue. Jacobi has struggled daily with smaller everyday tasks such as getting out of bed, unable to even consider training for the mile.
She is currently raising money for the Lupus Foundation of America with the hope that the money raised can help the foundation in their efforts to find a cure for the disease. Jacobi commented “I don’t get anything out of raising a certain amount of money or anything like that, I just want to do what I can in hopes that no one else has to sit by and watch NCAA’s because they’re too sick to compete from an illness that no one quite understands yet.”
Attached to this article is Madison’s Etsy page where T-shirt sales go towards raising money for Atlanta’s 2015 Walk to End Lupus. Those hoping to donate to Madison’s donor page can click on the second link from the top of the article. Residents of Atlanta that would like to join in the Lupus Walk can find more information on their home page. The Walk will take place on May 2nd at Piedmont Park.