Ultra Swim Swimmer of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based swimmer who has proven themselves over the past month. As with any item of recognition, Swimmer of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one athlete whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a swimmer who was visibly outperforming other swimmers over the month, or one whose accomplishments slipped through the cracks among other high-profile swims. If your favorite athlete wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.
Heading into this summer, if someone had told you a young American swimmer would win Olympic gold, you might have thought of defending world champ Regan Smith. Or rising flyer/freestylers Torri Huske or Claire Curzan, who were on a combined tear heading into Olympic Trials. Maybe strong relay contender Gretchen Walsh, or even after Olympic Trials, one of the rising Sandpipers distance swimmers Bella Sims or Katie Grimes.
There were plenty of reasons to put Lydia Jacoby on that same list. But apparently the Alaskan tundra is hype-proof, because Jacoby flew, relatively speaking, under the radar onto the U.S. Olympic team in June. And even as she carried the world’s #2 time this season in the 100 breast into the Olympc Games, Jacoby was still overlooked.
Sometimes that happens when your teammate is the world record holder – in both the 100 breast, and in buzz-generating interview quotes. The force of personality that is Lilly King tends to obscure discussion about really anyone else around her. And so the 17-year-old Jacoby cruised into the Olympic Games an exciting youngster, but still relatively undiscussed by fans.
Of 900-some entries into our Pick ‘Em contest, just 23 picked Jacoby to win gold, compared to 861 picking the reigning world and Olympic champ King.
So low was Jacoby’s profile that when King did an interview at the March Pro Swim Series in San Antonio, she felt safe saying that the one-year delay of the Olympics wasn’t really a problem for her because “I was in a really good position to start with… I didn’t really have any age groupers on my tail like some people do.”
You know the end of the story, which might just be the beginning of the story for the 17-year-old fast riser: Jacoby upset King to win Olympic gold, hitting a 1:04.95 that makes her the #7 performer of all-time and the fastest 17-18 in American swimming history.
Jacoby will still have up to two more shots at medals, depending on whether she swims the final of both the mixed 4×100 medley relay and women’s 4×100 medley relay. But what she’s done already has made her one of Team USA’s biggest success stories in Tokyo this week – and she’s our Swimmer of the Month.
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