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Lydia Jacoby withdraws from U.S. Olympic Trials

by | Jun 18, 2024 | Cover Story, Swimming and Diving

Lydia Jacoby, Alaska’s gold-medal swimmer, is withdrawing from the U.S. Olympic Trials and will follow the Paris Games from afar, she announced Tuesday on Instagram.

Jacoby, 20, missed her chance to defend her Olympic title in the 100-meter breaststroke by placing third Monday at the U.S. trials in Indianapolis. The top two finishers earned Olympic spots.

The Seward woman had a shot at making the U.S. team in the 200-meter breaststroke, which begins Wednesday with preliminaries. But she withdrew from the event on Tuesday.

“I have made the decision to scratch from the 200 breaststroke later this week in order to process and rejuvenate,” she wrote. “I wish the best of luck to my incredible teammates in Paris and will be cheering loudly from home.”

In a recent NBC podcast, Jacoby spoke of the emotional difficulties she faced after winning a gold medal at age 17 and becoming an instant celebrity.

“After the Olympics, you’re getting pulled so many different directions,” she said. “I’m very much a people-pleaser. So I was like, ‘I want to do this for everyone.’ And I felt, like, at a point I’d given every piece of myself away and I had nothing left for myself.”

In her announcement Tuesday, Jacoby wrote:

“I am not defined by my results.

“I am more than an athlete.

“I will be back.

“And I will be better.”

Jacoby’s failure to advance in the women’s 100 breaststroke is the biggest upset so far at the Trials, where swimmers must finish in the top two to claim a spot in Paris.

As the reigning Olympic champion in the event, Jacoby was expected to be one of the two advancing. She missed that goal by .27 of a second.

Lilly King of Indiana won the race in 1 minute, 5.43 seconds. Emma Weber of Colorado was second in 1:06.10, just ahead of Jacoby, who was third in 1:06.37.

Jacoby has the third-fastest qualifying time in the 200 breaststroke but hasn’t competed in the distance since last year. And, she would be up against two giants — Kate Douglass, who recently set the American record at 200 meters, and King, who won the silver medal in the event in the 2020 Tokyo Games and looked sharp on Monday.

Jacoby’s Instagram post attracted hundreds of positive responses, including one from five-time Olympic medalist Missy Franklin: “So proud of you Lydia. Thank you for setting the example of taking care of and doing what’s best for you.”

Alev Kelter, an Eagle River woman who was just named to the U.S. Olympic rugby team for a third straight Olympics, also chimed in: “With you! So proud of you always.”

Jacoby, who went from her triumph at the Tokyo Olympics to her senior year at Seward High School, is the first Alaskan to win Olympic medals in swimming. Besides gold in the 100 breaststroke, she was a member of the silver-medal 400-meter women’s medley relay team in Tokyo.

Two Alaskans have so far qualified for the Paris Olympics — Kelter and cyclist Kristen Faulkner of Homer.

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