Doing It For The A: Alaska&x27s first Olympic swimmer wins gold | AP News

    Tokyo (AP): When you’re an Alaskan swimmer, there are some misguided stereotypes to laugh at.

    I’m sure Lydia Jacoby has heard them all before.

    Reading: Alaska swimmer wins gold

    “he practically swims on frozen lakes,” said teammate gunnar bentz.

    oh no.

    jacoby swims in a pool, though even that has been a challenge during the coronavirus era.

    never mind.

    She is an Olympic champion.

    jacoby, a 17-year-old from the small town of seward, alaska (population: 2,773), pulled off a stunning upset in the 100-meter breaststroke on Tuesday, eliminating defending champion and fellow American king lilly.

    jacoby had already distinguished herself as the first swimmer from the 49th state to come to the us. uu. Olympic swimming team.

    He capped off his extraordinary journey with the biggest prize of all, even before he started his senior year of high school.

    “a lot of big name swimmers come from big, powerful clubs,” said jacoby. “Me coming from a small club, in a state with such a small population, it really shows everyone that you can do it no matter where you’re from.”

    Other athletes commented on Jacoby’s achievement.

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    “thinking that’s why we watch sports,” two-time masters champion bubba watson tweeted. “Watching a 17-year-old from Alaska take gold. amazing stuff!!”

    jacoby grew up around water.

    His parents are both boat captains and take tourists on whale watching tours off Alaska’s stunning coastline. The family also owns a sailboat, so her daughter joined a local swim team at age 6.

    “They just wanted me to be safe in the water,” he said.

    In no time, he was swimming faster than everyone else his age.

    “When I was about 12 years old, I broke my first state record,” Jacoby recalled. “That’s when I realized it was something I excelled at.”

    Not that she’s a one-hit wonder.

    jacoby also plays various musical instruments and sang in a bluegrass group, the snow river string band.

    “In my town we used to have a kids’ bluegrass camp every summer,” he said. “eventually we formed a band and played together for five or six years at different festivals in alaska.”

    Jacoby is one of those who benefited from the Olympics being pushed back a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, though it didn’t always seem that way. His local pool closed as Covid-19 spread across the globe, forcing his train into a pool about two and a half hours away in the state’s largest city, Anchorage.

    had qualified to swim at the u.s. Olympic trials in 2020, although she did not have much chance of being part of the team.

    In fact, his family had already made plans to visit Tokyo as spectators, planning to soak up the atmosphere and give Jacoby a taste of what he’d be chasing in 2024.

    Of course, the pandemic changed everything. Jacoby continued to train and gain time at a breakneck pace, greatly improving his chances when testing finally took place last month. He qualified in the 100 breaststroke, ranking second on the team behind King.

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    “I definitely knew she was a threat and I saw a lot of myself in her,” King said.

    jacoby thought he had a shot at a medal in tokyo, but he never thought it would be gold. King was still considered the swimmer to beat, with South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker posting the fastest qualifying time in the semi-finals.

    schoenmaker was ahead on the first trip down the pool, with the king in frantic pursuit. Jacoby was third when they came around, but the teenager, her head bobbing furiously in the water, darted past Rey and slid into the wall just ahead of the South African.

    “I just wanted to help her as much as I could and unfortunately I helped her too much,” king joked.

    in alaska, where jacoby’s friends and family were having a late afternoon watch party, the place went wild when the “1” appeared next to his name.

    jacoby turned quickly to look at the scoreboard, looking a little stunned by what she saw. she didn’t really seem to take it in until schoenmaker crossed the lane rope to give her a hug.

    King quickly joined them, skipping down two lanes to congratulate his young protégé.

    “I was definitely in the running for a medal. I knew I had it in me,” Jacoby said. “I really wasn’t expecting a gold medal, so when I looked up and saw the scoreboard, it was crazy.”

    After being homeschooled last year during the pandemic, Jacoby will return to Seward High School this fall for his senior year. After that, she’ll head to the lower 48 to attend the University of Texas, where she’ll be a perfect fit for the mighty longhorns program.

    however, he will never forget his Alaskan roots.

    “I’ve been representing my state for a long time, ever since I was very little,” Jacoby said. “It means a lot that you continue to support me.”


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    See also: Hockey Operations | Detroit Red Wings

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