At Alaska’s state high school swim meet, excitement for 2 Olympians competing on a different stage

History was made by a pair of young women who competed in the 2020 Summer Olympics as the Alaska high school swim and dive season came to a close Saturday evening. Dimond girls and Kodiak boys won the team championships.

History was made by a pair of young women who competed in the 2020 Summer Olympics as the Alaska high school swim and dive season came to a close Saturday evening.

Seward’s Lydia Jacoby set a new state record with her first-place time of 59.66 seconds in the 100-yard breaststroke, and Homer swimmer Jillian Crooks’ 200-yard freestyle time of 1:49.85 earned her first place and a spot in the state record book, as well.

“This is actually a new feeling for me,” said Crooks, who grew up in the Cayman Islands and competed in the Summer Olympics at just 15 years old. “It is a very exciting feeling because it’s my first time competing at regions and state.”

Jacoby, who was born and raised in Alaska, brought home Olympic gold in August after finishing first in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke. She won both of the events she competed in during the finals of the state swim meet, also taking first in the 200-yard individual medley.

“It’s crazy to think that I am done with high school swimming, but it’s been great,” said Jacoby.

[Photos: 2021 high school swimming and diving state championships]

Her head coach said Jacoby’s first-place finish in the individual medley wasn’t as much of a guarantee as her throttling performance in the breaststroke — her signature event — but she still reached the top of the podium with a finish of 2:05.70.

“The IM wasn’t as guaranteed as a lot of people made it out to be, so she really had a heck of a competition there,” said Seward coach Solomon D’ Amico.

The record Jacoby broke in the breaststroke was her own. She previously set the record as a sophomore in 2019, and while Saturday’s time wasn’t her fastest, she was elated to cap off her high school career on a high note.

“It felt good and I’m excited,” said Jacoby. “Not quite my best time, but it felt good to finish high school strong and under a minute.”

[See full results from 2021 Alaska high school swimming and diving championships]

Coming into this final meet, Crooks’ presence in the state outside of the swimming community was largely unknown. Representing the Cayman Islands, she competed in the women’s 100-meter freestyle in the Summer Olympics and finished first in the girl’s 100-yard freestyle Saturday with a time of 50.70.

“It has been an amazing journey and I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” Crooks said.

After being in Alaska for less than six months, she already views the state as a second home and intends on returning someday.

“I miss Cayman as well, but Alaska is kind of drawing me in, just like ‘Stay! Stay!’ " said Crooks.

An unusual development created the opportunity for Crooks to compete in Alaska for the 2021 fall season. She was unable to gain immediate re-entry back into her home country because of where she received her second COVID-19 vaccination shot.

“After Tokyo, I was planning on coming home, but Cayman is not accepting my second Walgreens vaccination card,” Crooks said.

Instead of putting her training on hold for the mandatory 14-day quarantine that would’ve been necessary if she returned to the Cayman Islands, Crooks and her mother decided to accept an offer extended by a family friend who also happened to be the head coach of Homer’s high school swim team.

“Out of the blue, Coach Caleb called and was like, ’Hey, you want to come up and swim in Alaska with us?’ And I said sure!” Crooks said.

Homer head coach Caleb Miller taught her how to swim when she was 5 years old. He and his wife moved from Virginia to the Caymans and lived there for a time, opening a swim school program. Even after he moved back to the U.S., he stayed in contact with Crooks and coached both her and her brother from afar.

“It’s a weird scenario how it all worked out, and it was certainly not part of the plan,” said Miller. “But I’m glad we’ve had the opportunity to do it, because this is a lot different than what she’s probably used to.”

Crooks also competed in the girl’s 200-yard freestyle relay and had given Homer an early lead that they held until the fourth and final leg, where Dimond’s Dreamer Kowatch helped the Lynx rally last minute for a come-from-behind victory. She wasn’t intimidated by the presence of either Olympian at the tournament and was happy for the opportunity to show what she could alongside elite competition.

“I love going last in our relay so it was super fun,” Kowatch said. “Lydia and I used to be really close when we were younger, so it’s good to be back in the pool with her.”

ADN’s Marc Lester contributed reporting.

Girls Team Results

1. Dimond, 98. 2. West Valley, 70. 3. Colony, 62. 4. Eagle River, 49. 5. Juneau Douglas, 43. 5. Homer, 43. 7. Lathrop, 38. 8. Kodiak, 31. 9. Seward, 23. 10, Thunder Mountain, 22. 11. Palmer, 14. 12. Monroe Catholic, 13. 13. South, 11. 14. Hutchison, 10. 15. Wasilla, 7. 16. Sitka , 6. 17. Soldotna, 5. 18. North Pole, 4. 18. West, 4. 20, Service, 2.

Boys Team Results

1. Kodiak, 79. 2. Dimond, 71. 3. Eagle River, 69. 4. Juneau Douglas, 62. 5. Service, 60. 6. Thunder Mountain, 49. 7. West Valley, 43. 8. Palmer, 27. 9. Wasilla High School, 22. 10, West, 17. 11. Craig, 16. 12. Chugiak, 13. 13. Colony , 12. 14. Kenai, 5. 15. Homer, 2. 15. South, 2. 17. Ketchikan, 1. 17. Valdez, 1.

Girls 200 Yard Medley Relay

1. Dimond, 1:48.37 (Hannah Boyce, Isabelle Borke, Brooke Dittlinger, Mia Sperbeck). 2. Colony 1:49.02. 3. West Valley 1:51.07. 4. Lathrop 1:52.52.

Boys 200 Yard Medley Relay

1. Kodiak, 1:35.67 (Ian Rocheleau, Nicholas Carver, Jackson Krug, Jacob Sarnowski). 2. Eagle River, 1:36.90. 3. Service, 1:36.96. 4. Juneau Douglas, 1:39.02.

Girls 200 Yard Freestyle

1. Jillian Crooks, Homer, 1:49.85. 2. Dreamer Kowatch, Dimond, 1:52.12. 3. Samantha Bristor, West Valley, 1:52.50. 4. Samantha Schwarting, Juneau Douglas, 1:57.21.

Boys 200 Yard Freestyle

1. Tytan Frawley, Juneau Douglas, 1:43.42. 2. Jackson Krug, Kodiak, 1:43.86. 3. Conrad Fawcett, Service, 1:44.19. 4. Kenneth Octuk, Dimond, 1:46.63.

Girls 200 Yard IM

1. Lydia Jacoby, Seward, 2:05.70. 2. Jean Cook, Monroe Catholic, 2:09.54. 3. Kiara Borchardt, Eagle River, 2:12.65. 4. Emma Fellman, Juneau Douglas, 2:12.88.

Boys 200 Yard IM

1. Patrick Foy, Thunder Mountain, 1:50.55. 2. Ian Rocheleau, Kodiak, 1:54.75. 3. Matthew Heaphy, Eagle River, 1:57.20. 4. Lucas Wisdom, Service, 1:59.32.

Girls 50 Yard Freestyle

1. Anna Keen, Eagle River, 23.61. 2. Isabelle Borke, Dimond, 24.01. 3. Alison Narog, Kodiak, 24.69. 4. Blaque Secor, West Valley, 24.85.

Boys 50 Yard Freestyle

1. Andrew Billings, Dimond, 21.55. 2. Kyan Harnum, West Valley, 22.13. 3. Kristofer Vangorder, Colony, 22.32. 4. Thomas Myers, Eagle River, 22.40.

Girls Diving

1. Grace Greene, Homer, 373.10. 2. Ally Hrncir, Palmer, 366.60. 3. Audrey Dietz, Wasilla, 361.55. 4. Abriella Werner, Soldotna, 346.35.

Boys Diving

1. Kade Reynolds, Wasilla, 508.25. 2. Ernest Kvidera, Dimond, 446.35. 3. Deshawn Campbell, Wasilla, 438.40. 4. Xander Backus, Colony, 390.90.

Girls 100 Yard Butterfly

1. Avery Hafele, Lathrop, 55.70. 2. Carly Nelson, Homer, 56.36. 3. Kiara Borchardt, Eagle River, 56.47. 4. Dreamer Kowatch, Dimond, 56.56.

Boys 100 Yard Butterfly

1. Chaz VanSlyke, Juneau Douglas, 52.17. 2. Ashton Banks, West Valley, 53.51. 3. Benson Boudreaux, Thunder Mountain, 54.15. 4. Stewart Sawyer, Palmer, 54.75.

Girls 100 Yard Freestyle

1. Jillian Crooks, Homer, 50.70. 2. Isabelle Borke, Dimond, 52.91. 3. Carly Nelson, Homer, 53.05. 4. Ally Ferguson, Palmer, 54.21.

Boys 100 Yard Freestyle

1. Jackson Krug, Kodiak, 46.64. 2. Kyan Harnum, West Valley, 47.55. 3. Micah Keen, Eagle River, 48.29. 4. Ethan Dill, Craig, 48.72.

Girls 500 Yard Freestyle

1. Samantha Bristor, West Valley, 5:12.35. 2. Samantha Schwarting, Juneau Douglas, 5:19.50. 3. Lori Houghton, Colony, 5:24.04. 4. Paige Antrobus, Dimond, 5:28.04.

Boys 500 Yard Freestyle

1. Conrad Fawcett, Service, 4:41.59. 2. Tytan Frawley, Juneau Douglas, 4:45.36. 3. Kenneth Octuk, Dimond, 4:46.40. 4. Jan Beck, Service, 4:56.04.

Girls 200 Yard Freestyle Relay

1. Dimond, 1:36.91 (Isabelle Borke, Brooke Dittlinger, Mia Sperbeck, Dreamer Kowatch). 2. Eagle River, 1:38.63. 3. Homer, 1:39.26. 4. Lathrop, 1:41.53.

Boys 200 Yard Freestyle Relay

1. Eagle River, 1:27.92 (Matthew Heaphy, Thomas Myers, Karson Kolberg, Micah Keen). 2. Dimond, 1:28.29. 3. Palmer, 1:29.75. 4. Thunder Mountain, 1:29.86.

Girls 100 Yard Backstroke

1. Avery Hafele, Lathrop, 58.04. 2. Amaya Rocheleau, Kodiak, 58.76. 3. Lola Woodward, Eagle River, 58.84. 4. Emma Gassman, Sitka, 59.77.

Boys 100 Yard Backstroke

1. Ian Rocheleau, Kodiak, 51.16. 2. Wesley Mank, Craig, 53.36. 3. Ashton Banks, West Valley, 54.43. 4. William Kitchen, Service, 54.49.

Girls 100 Yard Breaststroke

1. Lydia Jacoby, Seward, 59.66. 2. Jasmine Anderson, Colony, 1:03.71. 3. Jean Cook, Monroe Catholic, 1:04.07. 4. Anna Keen, Eagle River, 1:04.70.

Boys 100 Yard Breaststroke

1. Patrick Foy, Thunder Mountain, 55.45. 2. Matthew Heaphy, Eagle River, 56.40. 3. Nicholas Carver, Kodiak, 57.26. 4. Micah Keen, Eagle River, 58.07.

Girls 400 Yard Freestyle Relay

1. Dimond, 3:36.51 (Dreamer Kowatch, Emma Beltzer, Caroline Waters, Hannah Boyce). 2. West Valley 3:37.59. 3. Colony 3:43.38. 4. Juneau Douglas 3:43.89.

Boys 400 Yard Freestyle Relay

1. Juneau Douglas, 3:15.32 (Chaz Vanslyke, Adrell Mulgrew-Truitt, Harrison Holt, Tytan Frawley). 1. Kodiak, 3:15.32 (Ian Rocheleau, Max Robinson, Nicholas Carver, Jackson Krug). 3. Dimond, 3:17.48. 4. Palmer, 3:22.92.

Josh Reed

Josh Reed is a sports reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He's a graduate of West High School and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.