Seward swimmer Lydia Jacoby advances to Olympic semifinals

This has been updated with a new story Sunday evening: Lydia Jacoby of Seward swims into Olympic finals

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Original story from early Sunday:

On to the Olympic semifinals.

Seward teenager Lydia Jacoby swam the second fastest time in the preliminaries of the women’s 100-meter breaststroke Sunday at the Tokyo Olympics.

She finished second in her heat, where South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker set an Olympic record in a time of 1 minute, 4.82 seconds.

Jacoby was a heartbeat behind in 1:05:52, the second-fastest time of her career.

The race marked Jacoby’s international debut. She is the first swimmer from Alaska to make the U.S. Olympic team.


Jacoby, 17, will return to the Tokyo Aquatic Center later today for the semifinal races, which begin at 5:50 p.m. ADT. It’s a quick overnight turnaround for the swimmers, who get about 14 hours between two of the biggest races of their lives.

The finals are Monday at 6:17 p.m. ADT. The top eight swimmers from the two semifinals will advance.

[Lydia Jacoby’s journey to the Olympics started with a breakout performance at age 10. The pandemic helped her train even harder.]

On Sunday, Jacoby swam in the fifth heat, and the session’s third-fastest time came in the very next heat. Lilly King, Jacoby’s teammate and the world record-holder (and former Olympics record-holder), won in 1:05:55.

King set the world record of 1:04.13 in 2017 and set the previous Olympic record of 1:04.93 at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Jacoby came into the race with the second fastest time in the world this season -- 1:05.28 last month at the Olympic Trials. She finished second to Lilly King to book her ticket to Tokyo as one of Team USA’s two qualifiers.

[Lydia Jacoby is heading to Tokyo as Alaska’s first Olympic swimmer]

Jacoby swims for Seward’s Tsunami Swim Club and plans to graduate next spring with her Seward High classmates. During the pandemic she did much of her training with the Northern Lights Swim Club in Anchorage, where pools reopened before the one in Seward did.

Beth Bragg

Beth Bragg wrote about sports and other topics for the ADN for more than 35 years, much of it as sports editor. She retired in October 2021. She's contributing coverage of Alaskans involved in the 2022 Winter Olympics.