Lydia Jacoby, a 17-year-old incoming senior at Seward High School, enters today’s finals in the 100-meter breaststroke at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo after posting the third-fastest time in Sunday’s semifinals.
The finals are today at 6:17 p.m. AKDT.
Jacoby won the first of two semifinals with a time of 1 minute, 5.72 seconds. In the second semifinal, South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker and Lilly King of the United States battled and both came in under Jacoby’s time.
Schoenmaker won the second semi at 1:05.07, while King finished at 1:05.40.
“To have my whole state of Alaska backing me, I know they’re up at 2:30 a.m. watching me, it’s been great,” Jacoby, the first U.S. Olympic swimmer from Alaska, told The Associated Press.
The 2:30 a.m. event was Sunday’s preliminaries. There, Jacoby finished second, posting 1:05.52. Jacoby’s personal best is 1:05.28 and came at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June.
Schoenmaker had the top time in the prelims, going 1:04.82 to break King’s 2016 Olympic record. King, who was third in the prelims at 1:05.55, still has the world record from her 1:04.13 in 2017.
The emergence of Schoenmaker and Jacoby adds even more interest to tonight’s final.
In 2016, King won the gold medal, with Yuliya Efimova of Russia taking second. At those Olympics, Efimova won her semifinal and wagged one finger in the air, while King won the next semifinal and answered with a finger wag of her own.
“You wave your finger number one and you’ve been caught cheating, I’m not a fan,” King told NBC at the time, referring to the two doping infractions in Efimova’s career.
The two battled again at the World Championships in 2017, with King setting her world record and Efimova swimming 1:04.36, which is the second fastest time in this Olympic cycle.
Efimova had the fifth-best time of Sunday’s semifinals at 1:06.34.
Schoenmaker raised her profile in a big way by setting the Olympic record Sunday. Previously, her best time this Olympic cycle had been 1:05.74.
Sweden’s Sophie Hansson also showed she is a medal contender, swimming 1:05.66 in the prelims to set a Swedish record before qualifying fourth in the semifinals with a 1:05.81.
Adding to Sunday’s drama will be Jacoby’s closing speed. In the semifinals, Jacoby had the fastest second 50 meters at 34.48 seconds. The next best was Schoenmaker at 34.59.
Jacoby will be in Lane 3 tonight, while King will be in Lane 5, Schoenmaker will be in Lane 4 and Efimova will be in Lane 2. The Seward swimmer will be the second youngest in the final, with Russia’s Evgeniia Chikunova, 16, taking that honor.