Lydia grabbed the first position in women's 100-meter breaststroke, creating history for her hometown Seward, Alaska.
On July 27, Lydia Jacoby made history by winning the first-ever gold medal in Olympics for Alaska. The 17-year-old won the race against world-record holder Lilly King, becoming the first Alaskan to be a medal holder in the U.S. Olympic swim team.
An unlikely swimmer from an unlikely state, Lydia Jacoby is officially an Olympic champion.— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 28, 2021
From her start in swimming to the story of her pink goggles, Lydia’s journey feels like it’s straight out of a movie.#TokyoOlympics x @USASwimming pic.twitter.com/eq612f3FKP
"I was definitely racing for a medal. I knew I had it in me," Jacoby said later. "I wasn't really expecting a gold medal, so when I looked up and saw the scoreboard it was insane." She swam 1:04.95 on the Olympic final, beating her own record of 1:05.28 in the trial round in June.
Jacoby was followed by South African swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker, and Lilly King, who bagged the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
In June, Jacoby was honored as the "Alaskan of the week" by Alaskan Senator Dan Sullivan after qualifying to represent the USA in the Olympics. Undoubtedly, the win of the golden girl is now celebrated hugely in her hometown Seward. The whole state of Alaska seemed to back up Jacoby in those few last winning seconds, with nearly 200 people gathering in Seward High School gymnasium cheering for their girl.
"It's just such a momentous occasion. There was crying, there was yelling. We are so proud of our hometown girl, and we're so enthusiastic for the United States today to have a gold medal," said Mayor Christy Terry. "We're just over the world."
Jacoby first qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2018 when she was just 14 years old. In 2020 she qualified for the Trials again in swimming in two events, the 100-meter, and 200-meter breaststroke. "I was going to swim at trials, but a year ago I didn't have a real shot of making the team," she said. "So yeah, we had tickets to Tokyo, we were gonna come watch."
However, the delay in the Olympics due to the pandemic gave Jacoby and her teammates extra months to train and improve themselves. There is no 50-meters long Olympic-sized swimming pool in her community, and she had practiced in a 25-meters long pool only. Training twice a day for the first time, Jacoby had cut off 2.84 seconds of her best in the 100 breaststrokes. She continued to excel herself in practice hoping to bring a medal for her country.
"So many people have seen Lydia grow up from a small girl, having been supported through the Tsunami Swim Club. I can't say anything else that it was just one of the best days in Seward history, to be able to watch her achieve such something so amazing," said Mayor Terry.
The high schooler has committed to attending the University of Texas at Austin after her last year of school and is interested in fashion design.
Jacoby's incredible story of hard work and struggle shows that nothing is impossible if we have determination. A small-town girl is now the nation's breaststroke queen! Congratulations, Jacoby and Alaska!
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