Lydia Jacoby Embraces Hometown’s Reaction to Her 100 Breaststroke Olympic Gold


What transpired in the 64th second of the women’s 100 breaststroke final on Monday evening–Tuesday morning, Tokyo time–was rather unexpected by swimming fandom.

17-year-old Lydia Jacoby, the first Alaskan to qualify for the U.S. Olympic swimming team, hit the wall first to beat a veteran field, creating one of the biggest surprises of the Games so far. Jacoby’s final time of 1:04.95 is a new National Age Group (NAG) Record for 17-18 girls, an improvement on her previous lifetime best of 1:05.28 from U.S. Olympic Trials. In the final, Jacoby unseated reigning Olympic champion and World Record holder, American Lilly King, as well as newly-minted Olympic Record holder Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa, who placed 3rd and 2nd, respectively, behind Jacoby.

Jacoby won the race in the final 15 meters, demonstrating closing speed typically only seen in seasoned professionals and those who have spent a couple seasons cutting their teeth in the NCAA. And though the grand stands at the Tokyo Aquatic Center were largely empty, Jacoby’s hometown of Seward, Alaska, was in raptures. After qualifying to represent the USA in Tokyo in June, Jacoby was honored on the floor of the U.S. Senate as the “Alaskan of the week” by Alaskan Senator Dan Sullivan.

Monday night’s celebrations took the hype to another level.

In her hometown of Seward, nearly 200 people gathered in the gymnasium of Seward High School to cheer for Jacoby and celebrate her victory. An impressive turnout for a town of less than 2,800 people.

After getting to view a clip of the watch party herself, Jacoby told Today‘s Savannah Guthrie “there’s definitely some of my best friends in front there,” and “we all grew up together, so it means a lot that they’re here supporting me. We did this together,” says Jacoby.

Seeing her parents’ reaction at the Team USA watch party in Orlando, Jacoby references the iPad obscuring her mother’s face and laughs “my mom tried to film it.” Whatever footage Mrs. Jacoby has on the iPad, we would be interested in viewing and adding it to the compendium of great reactions to Jacoby’s victory.

Regarding her victory over King, the 2016 Olympic champion and World Record holder, Jacoby said she “was just so happy that [Lilly King] was so gracious and so amazing. That really shows how much Team USA comes together to all support each other.”

Jacoby sat down with the Today Show to talk about her gold-medal effort. Watch that interview here.

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Coach Rob
1 month ago

I had goosebumps watching her friends at high school go wild. So happy for everyone!

Wave 1.5 Qualifier
1 month ago

She is going to be a star.
Particularly on the Today Show clip, Lydia comes across as authentic and affable.

1 month ago

The scene at her HS was amazing. To see her friends and classmates explode with joy is a ,lasting memory from these Games. It also says great things about the outstanding person she obviously is.

1 month ago

she also has gained like 30k insta followers since last night

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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