Lydia Jacoby became the first Alaskan swimmer to win Olympic gold, securing the medal in the 100-meter breaststroke at 1:04.95 in a major upset Monday at the Tokyo Olympics.
Jacoby, 17, surprised by finishing ahead of South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker and USA’s defending gold medalist, Lilly King. Schoenmaker took the silver, and King captured bronze, her first defeat in a 100-meter breaststroke final since December 2016.
“I was definitely racing for a medal. I knew I had it in me,” Jacoby said. “I wasn’t really expecting a gold medal, so when I looked up and saw the scoreboard it was insane.”
As she touched the wall and looked up, she looked stunned. King swam over, holding her hands and slapping the water in joy.
Jacoby became one of the youngest American swimmers to win an Olympic gold, joining elite company. The only younger United States swimmers to win an individual gold in the past 20 years were Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin.
Jacoby, who is from Seward, Alaska, moved to Anchorage earlier this year to train. Her community watched live from Seward, jumping and screaming in joy as No. 1 displayed against her name in the pool.
“I’m so excited for Lydia,” King said. “I love to see the future of American breaststroke coming up like this and to have somebody to go at it head to head in the country.
“I definitely knew she was a threat and saw a lot of myself in her effort.”
Jacoby is the first swimmer and only the 10th Olympian to be born in Alaska.