Olympic Champ Lydia Jacoby Positioned For FINA World Championships Success

In the SwimSwam Podcast dive deeper into the sport you love with insider conversations about swimming. Hosted by Coleman HodgesGarrett McCaffrey, and Gold Medal Mel Stewart, SwimSwam welcomes both the biggest names in swimming that you already know, and rising stars that you need to get to know, as we break down the past, present, and future of aquatic sports.

arena signed 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.

The day arena made the announcement, Lydia topped SwimSwam traffic, pulling more eyeballs than the ISL match and the college invite coverage. In other words, this native Alaskan has real star power!

In this podcast we talk NIL, the moment NIL became real (during Lydia’s Olympic training camp), breaststroke training with coach Solomon D’Amico, and the excitement of signing with arena.

If you were hiding under a rock this past summer,  Lydia stunned the world by coming from behind to win gold in the Olympic 100m breaststroke, besting both the current world record holder. 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.

With the postponement of the Olympics, 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 her hometown of Seward.

Undeterred, Lydia returned to the pool faster than ever, breaking National Age Group records twice at the Olympic Trials, 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 point in third place before powering home 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 Olympic title, became only the sixth female swimmer in history to break 1:05 in 100m breaststroke.

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Steve Nolan
13 days ago

The day arena made the announcement, Lydia topped SwimSwam traffic, pulling more eyeballs than the ISL match and the college invite coverage. In other words, this Alaska native has real star power!

Will preface by saying Lydia is great, don’t get me wrong – but! This may be more an indictment on how not-interested in the ISL people are? (I oddly can’t get pumped for college swims meets this year either? I usually do, but idk if it’s being a post-Olympic year or what but I just am glazing over at all the meets so far this fall.)

Admin
Reply to  Steve Nolan
13 days ago

While not an unreasonable conclusion, we have the data that supports that Lydia’s signing was legitimately high-traffic. The only thing higher in November so far was Caeleb Dressel joining Nesty.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Braden Keith
13 days ago

Page views would do it! (It did seem like there were a lot of comments there, so assumed y’all just weren’t spinning it.)

Gold Medal Mel
Reply to  Steve Nolan
13 days ago

Steve (and Braden) always appreciate the context. Yes, both points are true. Interestingly, to Steve’s point, a lot of elites feel the same way—exhausted. I’m getting back-channel feedback that certain elites are really struggling. Not Lydia. She’s young, her career has just started, but elites 23 and older are struggling with the grind, post pandemic, Olympics, World Cup and through ISL.

applesandoranges
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel
13 days ago

I am guessing that the struggle is real, and that many are suffering some sort of depression. They may also be facing the hard realities that their swimming careers coming to an end, which is obviously a difficult reality to face.

I wonder how many of the over 23 elite swimmers will be accused by the swimswam cognescenti of quitting when they make the decision to retire.

Walter
Reply to  applesandoranges
13 days ago

How dare they, right? Damn, I get the idea that some of these commenters are upset Mark Spitz is still not swimming at an elite level. What a quitter.

applesandoranges
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
13 days ago

Thank you for saying this, that you were relieved to get third and excited to start the next chapter in your life. I swam, was definitely not elite, but the desire to go out on top or to get a best time in your last swim is real, even for non elite athletes.

Thank you again.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel
13 days ago

I can imagine – even when the ISL schedule came out it seemed like it was gonna be tough for athletes to keep it going.

It’s an exhausting couple of years for everyone, adding a higher frequency of high-level meets to the schedule right after the Olympics just compounds that. (I obviously have no real insight, but just overall “vibes” is most elites sort of dial it down to like, idk, 70% of pre-Olympic levels afterwards just to recharge.)

Monteswim
Reply to  Steve Nolan
13 days ago

Definitely agree with this. For me it has to do with the sheer number of meets – the ISL is exhausting to keep up with..

Meeeeee
Reply to  Monteswim
13 days ago

Agree. And i have no connection to teams and can’t keep up with who is where. But what I really don’t like when watching is the lack of focus on times. The points pop up but not the times. I am so time oriented with swimming. It drove me nuts during the Olympics when they weren’t putting up the times of the top 8 immediately after the race. Took them soooo long to get to that point.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Monteswim
13 days ago

Absolutely. You’re just not conditioned to care about mid-season meets as a swim fan. (Maybe it’s something that can change over generations! But it’s been “go fast at one meet a year, maybe two” for so long, hard to make it compelling outside of those conditions.)

About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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