Lydia Jacoby celebrates her commitment to the University of Texas in Seward recently. (Photo by Leslie Jacoby)

Lydia Jacoby celebrates her commitment to the University of Texas in Seward recently. (Photo by Leslie Jacoby)

Seward’s Jacoby takes 2nd to Olympic champion

Seward junior Lydia Jacoby, 17, set a new personal record in finishing second to Olympic champion and world record holder Lilly King on Friday in the 100-meter breaststroke final at the 2021 TYR Pro Swim Series in Mission Viejo, California.

Jacoby, who has already committed to the powerhouse swim program at the University of Texas, touched the wall in the long-course race at 1 minute, 6.99 seconds, while King finished at 1:05.32.

Jacoby’s time put her in some elite company. According to swimswam.com, Jacoby is now third all-time among U.S. girls 17 to 18 years old. She also is 14th all-time among U.S. swimmers at any age. Jacoby also registered the sixth-fastest time in the world this season.

The performance puts Jacoby squarely in the conversation of contenders to make the U.S. Olympic team at the trials in June in Omaha, Nebraska.

“It was always a possibility, being in the top 16, but it really wasn’t probable,” Jacoby said. “After my swims this weekend, I feel like I have as good of a shot as any of the other top women.”

Jacoby needs to finish in the top two at the trials to make the Olympics. She said she will go into the 100 breaststroke ranked third behind King and Annie Lazor, who has a faster time than Jacoby since 2018.

The Seward swimmer said a lot will be determined by how swimmers react to tapering, or lessening their workouts before the trials in order to swim faster.

“This was very much a midseason meet,” Jacoby said. “Everybody has been training hard the last couple weeks and months. You have to train hard before you start resting for the trials.”

To Jacoby’s surprise, she was able to drop a lot of time at the meet even though she is lifting heavy weights and swimming a lot of yards right now.

“I’m not tapered at all,” Jacoby said. “I was just hoping to be around my best times. It definitely exceeded my expectations.”

In mid-November, Jacoby won a national title in the 100 breaststroke at the 2020 Toyota U.S. Open Championships, which were held synchronously at nine regional sites around the country.

Jacoby was actually second in the race, but won because the race winner is a German citizen. Jacoby’s time of 1:07.57 was a personal record at the time and put her second all-time among American girls 15 and 16.

In Thursday’s preliminaries at the Pro Swim Series meet, Jacoby dropped her PR to 1:06.99 before going even lower in the finals.

Had there been no coronavirus pandemic, Jacoby’s improvement would have come a year after the trials and thus had no impact on them.

“People like me, who are younger, have had another year to get bigger, faster and develop more,” Jacoby said. “It’s been very beneficial to me.”

The 100 breaststroke finals were Friday morning. Friday night, Jacoby swam in the preliminaries of the 200 breaststroke.

Jacoby also made a big improvement in that event, lowering her PR from 2:32.36 to 2:28.87. The time just missed getting Jacoby in the A final, with the eighth slot going to 2:28.69.

That didn’t stop Jacoby from making another big leap forward in Saturday morning’s B final. Jacoby won the B final by lowering her PR to 2:27.39. That time would have placed her fifth in the A final.

“It felt really good to make that drop,” said Jacoby, adding she has sliced about 10 seconds from her 200 breaststroke time this season. “I’m now 17th going into the trials in that event. That’s a huge step up from where I was before.

“I am still learning more about that event every time I swim it.”

Jacoby said the trials have been divided into Wave 1 and Wave 2. The Olympic team will be chosen from Wave 2. Jacoby now is in Wave 2 for both the 100 and 200 breaststroke.

Saturday night, Jacoby missed making the finals in the 200 individual medley. Jacoby came in with a 2:36.68 seed time, but lowered that to 2:29.38 in the prelims. The last spot in the finals went to Bethany Galat of Aggie Swim Club at 2:18.65.

With her two big events out of the way, Jacoby said she competed in the 200 IM for fun. Hitting a big PR in that event continued to confirm her improvement as a swimmer.

Jacoby said this is her last out-of-state meet until the trials. She said she felt the support from Seward and Alaska all the way down in California.

“It’s really neat how much community support and support throughout Alaska there’s been throughout the entire journey,” Jacoby said. “All the kids at school watched and had it playing in the commons. It’s neat friends and family are supporting me, and even people I don’t know.”

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