On Tuesday, 17-year-old American swimmer Lydia Jacoby, who hails from Alaska, where there is only one 50-meter pool in the entire state and who had never competed in a major international competition before, won the gold medal in a stunning upset and became the first female American swimmer to win a gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics.
LYDIA JACOBY WINS GOLD! 🥇
Alaska has an Olympic champion!
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) July 27, 2021
There is only one 50m pool in the entire state of Alaska.
Lydia Jacoby (Seward, Alaska) is now an Olympic gold medalist 🥇
What a moment for Jacoby and her family. pic.twitter.com/JIZPEfurpw
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) July 27, 2021
Jacoby is the first swimmer from Alaska to make the U.S. Olympic swimming team and defeated reigning champion and fellow American Lilly King in the 100-meter breaststroke. King finished third behind Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa, who took silver. Although she was behind King and Schoenmaker at the turn, Jacoby touched the wall at 1.04.95; Schoenmaker touched at 1:05.22, and King, who had not lost a 100-meter breaststroke final in nearly five years, touched home at 1:05.54.
“I was definitely racing for a medal,” Jacoby said. “I knew I had it in me. I wasn’t really expecting a gold medal, so when I looked up and saw the scoreboard it was insane.” King lauded Jacoby, saying, “This kid just had the swim of her life and I am so proud to be her teammate.”
“A lot of big-name swimmers come from big, powerhouse clubs,” Jacoby said. “Me coming from a small club, in a state with such a small population, really shows everyone that you can do it no matter where you’re from,” as ESPN reported.
The pool where Jacoby trains in Anchorage at Bartlett High “is raising funds through a GoFundMe site to buy new starting blocks,” The Washington Post noted.
Jacoby recalled, according to the Daily Mail, “I started swimming competitively when I was six. My parents put me on my club team at our local town. They wanted me to be safe in the water and at first I did it as a fun thing to do with my friends. When I was about 12, I set my first state record, and that is when I first realized I excelled in swimming and it is something that I wanted to do. … ‘I had to take two months off due to Covid when it (the pandemic) first started. I was then able to train with the team in Anchorage which is about two hours from my house. I have continued to go back and forth since then. Having this extra year, after such a hard year for the world, it feels extra special to be an Olympian.”
She admitted, “To be honest, I was a lot more nervous going into semifinals than I was for this race. I definitely let my nerves get the better of me going into yesterday morning. I just tried to channel that energy in a more positive way and I was able to sleep really well last night.”
Video of fans in Jacoby’s hometown went viral as the crowd was jumping up and down during the race and exploding with joy at the moment Jacoby won the race.
Watching Lydia Jacoby's friends and family react to her winning Olympic Gold in the Women's 100 Breaststroke for Team USA is AWESOME.pic.twitter.com/E1KtTNKkV7
— Kyle Sockwell (@kylesockwell) July 27, 2021
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