One of the joys of the Olympic Games is when the best in the world get beaten by somebody else.
Lydia Jacoby moved from an unknown teenager in Seward, Alaska, to a gold medal winner after winning the women’s 100-meter breast stroke on Tuesday in Tokyo.
Her victory, ahead of Team USA teammate and former gold medalist Lilly King, who holds the world record, and South African star Tatyana Schoenmaker, produced first shock and then celebration on Jacoby’s face as she realized what she had accomplished.
“I definitely stressed myself out yesterday so I was just trying to feel good and feel happy going into it, and I feel like I did that,” Jacoby said after the race, according to NBC.
“We love to keep that gold in the USA family,” said King, who took a bronze medal. “This kid just had the swim of her life and I’m so proud to be her teammate and win bronze for my country.”
STAND UP ALASKA!
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 27, 2021
“You got gold,” cheered Sarah Spanos, whose son, Connor was a fellow member of the Seward Tsunami Swim Club, according to Alaska Public Media. “Oh my gosh, gold!”
“She always rises up to the top of every competition she gets to,” Connor Spanos said. “And it was no different at the Olympics, clearly.”
“It’s so crazy and exciting because she’s worked so hard for so long,” said Wren Dougherty, a friend of Jacoby. “She’s a really humble person, so she really deserves all this recognition.”
— Larry Dougherty (@Ldoc32) July 27, 2021
Megan O’Leary, Jacoby’s former coach, said Jacoby was determined to win, according to Alaska Public Media.
“She texted me before her race and she said, ‘I want it.’ And I said, ‘Then you got it,’” said O’Leary.
When the crest of Olympic fame is over, Jacoby will have one more year to go before she graduates from Seward High School. After that, she heads for warmer weather at the University of Texas at Austin, where she has committed to join its swim program.
O’Leary said all of Seward shared in Jacoby’s triumph, according to Alaska Public Media.
“She’s still part of the team, you know? Even here, in our small little community. She’s racing on a world stage and she just won a gold medal and it’s amazing,” said O’Leary.
Jacoby’s training routine adapted when COVID-19 hit, the swimmer told AlaskasNewsSource in a December interview.
“I was lifting weights in my garage, and running with ice cleats,” Jacoby said. “My dad and I were able to build a squat cage for me that was really helpful.”
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