Jacoby shocks world champion at Olympics, wins gold medal

July 26, 2021

Lydia Jacoby

Lydia Jacoby lit up Seward all the way from Tokyo.

The 17-year-old swimmer created massive electricity in her hometown after coming-from-behind to win the gold medal in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke at the Summer Olympics in Japan.

Dozens of Seward residents gathered for a viewing party that looked like the Beatles came to town, with people jumping up and down and screaming as they cheered on their hometown hero.

Jacoby was third at the turn and closed strong to pop a blistering time of 1:04.95 followed by South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker, who was .27 of a second behind the Alaskan. World record holder Lilly King was .59 back in third.

“I was definitely racing for a medal,” Jacoby told reporters. “I wasn’t really expecting a gold medal so when I looked up at the scoreboard it was insane.”

Jacoby is the first Alaskan to make an Olympic team in swimming and is the first American woman to win gold in swimming at these Olympics.

She joins Anchorage rower Kris Thorsness (1984), Anchorage softball player Michele Granger (1996) and Juneau basketball player Carlos Boozer (2008) as Alaskans to win a gold medal at the Summer Games. All four of them attended high school in Alaska.

Jacoby, of Seward High fame, is entering her senior year and has committed to the University of Texas.

Jacoby came into the final with a ton of confidence after winning her semifinal heat and posting the second-fastest qualifying time.

The field was stacked with talent, led by world record holder Lilly King, who beat Jacoby at the U.S. Olympic Trials and was chasing her second consecutive gold medal in the 100 breaststroke.

“We love to keep that gold in the USA family, so this kid just had the swim of her life and I am so proud to be her teammate,” King said on the NBC broadcast.

The product of the Seward Tsunami Swim Club was shown the viral video of people cheering from her hometown and her parents cheering from a watch party in Orlando, Florida.

What message do you have for them?

“Thank you for all of the support over the years,” Jacoby said. “It’s been amazing.”