Lydia Jacoby of Seward is the first Alaskan to swim in the Olympics. After she won a gold medal last week in the 100-meter breaststroke, we wrote 10 things to know about her. After she contributed to the U.S. team’s silver medal performance Saturday in the women’s 400-meter medley relay, we decided to pass along five more:
1. She’s $40,312.50 richer than she was before the Olympics.
Jacoby earned $37,500 for her gold medal in the 100-meter breaststroke and $2,812.50 for her share of the silver medal in the women’s 400-meter medley relay.
The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee pays athletes $37,500 for gold, $22,500 for silver and $15,000 for bronze. The prize money for Jacoby’s relay silver will be split among eight swimmers -- the four who swam in the prelims and the four who swam in the finals.
The USOPC gave athletes a big raise in December 2016 after the Rio Olympics, although it initially offered the increase only to Olympians, not Paralympians. It reconsidered nearly two years later and put everyone on the same pay scale, retroactive to the 2016 Winter Paralympics.
For Anchorage sit-skier Andrew Kurka, who won gold and silver in Pyeongchang, the pay raise was worth $47,250.
2. She joins Tommy Moe as the only Alaskan to win two medals at one Olympics. Moe, an alpine skier from Girdwood, won gold in the downhill and silver in the super-G at the 1994 Winter Olympics.
Jacoby, Moe and cross-country skier Kikkan Randall are the only Alaska-raised athletes to win individual Olympic gold, and each won dramatically.
Their combined winning margin in three races? One half of a second.
Moe won by the slimmest margin, taking the downhill championship by a margin of .04 of a second. Randall and Minnesota’s Jessie Diggins won the women’s team sprint at the 2018 Winter Olympics by .19 of a second. Jacoby won the 100-meter breaststroke by .27 of a second.
Moe and Jacoby also lost gold medals by excruciatingly small margins. Moe was .08 of a second slower than the gold medalist in the super-G, and Jacoby and her women’s medley relay team were .13 behind the winning team from Australia.
3. She’s using her new-found fame to promote a fundraising campaign for new starting blocks for the Bartlett High pool. The pool became famous by association because it’s the only Olympic-sized pool in Alaska -- a fact that fascinated fans and media.
4. She has a homemade squat cage in the family garage, said her dad, Rich Jacoby. It helped her increase her strength training during the pandemic.
5. She’s a mere mortal when swimming something other than the breaststroke. Just ask Madison Story of Homer and Dreamer Kowatch of Dimond High. Both finished ahead of Jacoby in the 200-yard individual medley at the Alaska high school state championships in 2019.
“She’s super-human in breaststroke,” said Jodi McLaughlin, a swim official from Anchorage. “A lot of kids are able to compete with her in other strokes.”
Jacoby, 17, has been a phenom in the breaststroke for years. She broke the state high school record for the 100-yard breaststroke as a freshman and again as a sophomore. (She also won the 200 IM as a freshman in 2018).
As a 15-year-old Seward High sophomore at the 2019 state championships, Jacoby set the existing state record with a time of 1:00.61. That translates to a time of 1:09.28 for 100 meters.
Jacoby’s gold-medal time of 1:04.95 converts to a 100-yard time of 56.71. The Alaska high school record for boys is 56.40.