Lydia Jacoby: 10 things to know about Alaska’s Olympic gold medal swimmer

1. She was born on Leap Day.

2. In a span of three years, she slashed more than six seconds off her time in the 100-meter breaststroke. At a 2018 meet in California, at age 14, she swam 1:11.05 to win a USA Swimming Futures age-group title. At the U.S. Olympic Trials in June, she swam 1:05.28 to clinch an Olympic berth. And Monday in the Olympic finals, she swam 1:04.95.

3. She plans to swim in college for the University of Texas — but first, she has to finish her senior year of high school. She’s a member of the Seward High School Class of ‘22.

4. Her pre-pandemic personal-best was 1:08.12. She swam more than ever during the pandemic, even though the only pool in Seward was shut down for months. Jacoby and her mom, Leslie, got an apartment in Anchorage and she trained with the Northern Lights Swim Club through the summer of 2020 and beyond. It was the first time she trained year-round -- the Seward Tsunami Swim Club is a six-month program.

5. She dropped out of this year’s Mount Marathon junior race. Something else came up that required a trip to Japan.

6. She plays stand-up bass. She’s a singer and a guitar player too, and she spent a few summers performing at Alaska folk festivals as a member of the Snow River String Band. She hasn’t sung the national anthem at any baseball games, said dad Rich Jacoby, “but she’s done it before a couple of swim meets.”

7. She became an Olympic darkhorse in April with a 1:06.38 at a meet in California, where she placed second to world record holder Lilly King. Afterwards she talked about the prospect of someday catching King: “It’s definitely crazy to think that. But that’s how the sport works. You think about how you can tweak things so you can get closer to the next person. I’ve done that my whole life. It just so happens the next person now is the world record holder. It’s cool.”


8. Both of her parents, Rich and Leslie, are licensed boat captains in Seward. Rich is a maritime instructor at the Alaska Vocational Technical Center and Leslie is the educational coordinator for a marine science program at Kenai Fjords Tours. Rich also leads expeditions to Antarctica.

9. She’s 5 feet, 10 inches tall. Her dad is 6-4 and her mom is 5-8.

10. She qualified for this year’s U.S. Olympic Trials at age 14 by swimming 1:10.45 at a 2018 meet in North Carolina. A month earlier, as a freshman for the Seward Seahawks, she set the Alaska high school state record in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:03.11. She lowered the record to 1:00.61 in her sophomore year (there was no meet her junior year because of COVID-19).

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.