Lydia Jacoby's hometown goes crazy after teen becomes 1st Alaskan swimmer to win Olympic gold

'I was definitely racing for a medal. I knew I had it in me,' said Lydia Jacoby, 17, who hails from Seward, Alaska with a population of 2,852 people


                            Lydia Jacoby's hometown goes crazy after teen becomes 1st Alaskan swimmer to win Olympic gold
Lydia Jacoby and fans and friends and family back at home jumping in joy (Tom Pennington/Getty Images and Twitter/NBCOlympics)

On Tuesday, July 27 in Japan, Lydia Jacoby became the first Alaskan swimmer to win Olympic gold, securing the medal in the 100-meter breaststroke at the Tokyo Olympics. The 17-year-old finished ahead of South Africa's Tatjana Schoenmaker and the United States' defending gold medalist, Lilly King, who suffered 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," said Jacoby after the event. She became one of the youngest American swimmers to win an Olympic gold medal with this win. "I wasn't really expecting a gold medal, so when I looked up and saw the scoreboard, it was insane." 

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"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,” she added. Jacoby is reportedly the tenth Olympian to be born in Alaska.

Jacoby, who hails from Seward, Alaska, was cheered on by friends, family, and fans, who saw her win at a hometown watch party in Seward – something that has been captured in a spectacular video. The crowd jumped into the air as she created history. Seward, with a population of 2,852 people in 2020, is one of Alaska's smaller cities.



 

The video shared by NBC Olympics was received online with equal parts pride and equal parts warmth. “This is the America I love! So much joy and pride in shared successes,” said one Twitter user. Another person tweeted, “Her race and the ensuing celebration are the highlight of #Tokyo2020 so far! #TeamUSA.” One Twitter user said that was “why I love the #Olympics. An unexpected dream realized. A community bursting at the seams with pride. Way to represent the future and now of  @USASwimming #OlympicGold for Lydia Jacoby.”


 

 



 



 

 

“Alaskans are so excited for you Lydia! The scene from Seward High School cheering on Lydia Jacoby as she took home the gold and made history tonight,” tweeted one person. Alyse Galvin, an Independent Candidate for US Congress, wrote on Twitter: “Who else enjoyed cheering on Lydia Jacoby as she won her GOLD medal tonight? Let’s celebrate our local champion and all the Alaskans who are exceeding all expectations as athletes representing our nation! You go, Lydia, we are so proud of you.” CNN’s Ed Lavandera wrote, “May we all find friends like this,” sharing the video.



 



 



 

"I'm so excited for Lydia," King, who captured bronze in the event, 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." At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, King had made headlines for engaging in a personal rivalry with Yuliya Efimova of Russia, a six-time world champion, who had served a 16-month suspension for doping, then was allowed to compete despite failing another drug test.

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