A 17-year-old swimmer from Alaska whose gold medal victory at the Tokyo Olympics has been likened to a real-life “Cinderella story” said she had no idea she was going to win until she, well, won.
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On Monday night, Team USA swimmer Lydia Jacoby made history in the pool, upsetting favorite Lilly King to claim gold in the women's 100m breaststroke.
The teen’s look of pure shock when she popped head out of the water and looked at the scoreboard will go down as a moment to remember from the Tokyo Olympics.
So, what in the world was running through the young swimmer’s mind? She spoke to NBC 7 San Diego anchor Steven Luke about that exact moment at the Tokyo Olympics.
“I knew that I was right there with them,” the teen told NBC 7 San Diego anchor Steven Luke following her race in Tokyo. “I really had no idea who was going to touch first.”
When asked if she could hear any clues of her win from underwater, Jacoby shared this:
“I can never really hear things when I’m in the water but this time, I really did, on that last 25,” Jacoby said, beaming. “I imagine it was a lot of Team USA cheering, so that was very exciting. And then just touching the wall and seeing the scoreboard was incredible.”
Jacoby told Luke she hadn’t quite taken in the full scope of her gold medal victory yet – but she was starting to, and it felt “amazing.”
Jacoby is a high school student – who still has her senior year ahead of her – from Seward, Alaska. She’s the first Olympic swimmer to be born in Alaska.
At a watch party back in her hometown, spectators went wild, as the teen reached the finish line and won gold for Team USA.
Luke showed Jacoby the video of her hometown supporters jumping and cheering. The teen grinned from ear to ear.
She wasn’t surprised by that.
That’s her support system – and even from afar – she knows they’re always there for her.
“They’ve been supporting me ever since I was really little, breaking state records, winning state championships,” Jacoby said. “And, now, to be on this level doing the same thing – it’s just so fun to have them still supporting me and even on a bigger scale than ever.”
Jacoby’s “Cinderella story” got some serious attention on social media.
The teen said Hollywood star Jennifer Garner posted all about Jacoby’s big win in her Instagram story.
Team USA swimming legend Michael Phelps also gave the teen a shoutout on his Instagram story.
Luke’s final question to Jacoby was all about how things will be for her when she gets back home to Alaska – as in, will she have to load the dishwasher and do chores around the house? Or does she get a pass from her parents because she’s now an Olympic medal winner?
Jacoby smiled big. Then, a giggle for the world of possibilities ahead.
“You’ll have to ask them about that,” she said.
Jacoby plans to attend the University of Texas – Class of 2026. Read more about her here.