Teen Lydia Jacoby Becomes First Alaskan Swimmer to Win Olympic Gold Medal

The 17-year-old captured the gold medal in the women's 100-meter breaststroke competition on Tuesday.

Team USA's Lydia Jacoby just swam her way into the history books.

The 17-year-old athlete scored a gold medal in the women's 100-meter breaststroke competition on Tuesday morning at the Tokyo Games, defeating teammate and reigning champ, Lilly King, who finished third, and South Africa's Tatjana Schoenmaker, who placed second. Jacoby clocked in at 1 minute and 4.95 seconds in the competition while King had a time of 1 minute and 4.93 seconds at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016. (

The first swimmer from Alaska to ever make the U.S. Olympic Team, Jacoby said she "was definitely racing for a medal" during Tuesday's competition but did not expect the top prize. "I wasn't really expecting a gold medal, so when I looked up and saw the scoreboard it was insane," said Jacoby post-race, according to NBC News. Jacoby also sported pink goggles for her sensational victory, which were given to her by former Olympic swimmer, Jessica Hardy, when she was a kid.

Jacoby's stunning performance in the pool on Tuesday naturally elicited quite the commotion from loved ones back home in Alaska, who gathered in Seward (the swimmer's hometown; about 120 miles south of Anchorage), for a watch party. In Tokyo, however, 24-year-old King celebrated her teammate's monumental win.

"I'm so excited for Lydia," said King, according to NBC News. "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." (

A high school senior, Jacoby is expected to join the swim team at the University of Texas at Austin in fall 2022. Ahead of the Tokyo Games, Jacoby recalled the moment she had been tapped for the Olympic team, posting a lengthy message on her Instagram page in June.

"Like many other young athletes, ever since I was little I dreamed of becoming an Olympian. I watched the world's [sic]best athletes compete in many different sports, breaking records and winning medals along the way. I am so honored to now be joining that incredible group of people," wrote Jacoby on Instagram. "Thank you to my friends, my family, my coaches, and my past, present, and future teammates for pushing me to become the person and athlete I am today. I can't wait to represent team USA in Tokyo!"

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As of Tuesday, the United States has racked up a total of 25 medals, nine of which are gold, eight silver, and eight bronze. The U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team received the silver medal in Tuesday's team competition despite Simone Biles withdrawing due to an apparent "medical issue," according to USA Gymnastics. In an interview with the Today Show on Tuesday, Biles said how the pressure to compete at the Olympic level impacted her emotional well-being.

"Physically, I feel good, I'm in shape," she said. "Emotionally, that kind of varies on the time and moment. Coming here to the Olympics and being the head star isn't an easy feat, so we're just trying to take it one day at a time and we'll see."

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