Jacoby, a 17 year old returning for her senior year of Seward High School, became the first Alaskan to ever qualify for the Olympic Swimming Games.

Published: July 28, 2021 16:29 |

Last updated: July 28, 2021 4:29 PM

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A token of congratulations for Olympic swimmer Lydia Jacoby hangs over the pool entrance of Seward High School in Seward, Alaska. (Photo | AP)

SEWARD: An Olympic craze pervades an Alaskan coastal community thousands of miles from Japan and almost a full day after Lydia Jacoby scored a big surprise at the Tokyo Games to win gold in the 100- Bringing the women’s one-meter breaststroke home.

Jacoby, a 17-year-old returning for her senior year of Seward High School, became the first Alaskan to ever qualify for the Olympic Swimming Games .

“We were hoping for a medal, but being the first to hit the wall exceeded our expectations,” said Sarah Spanos, a swimming mom who volunteers for the small team that Jacoby is a part of Seward Tsunami Swim Club, dedicated. And everyone is beaming with pride and joy and just tears, lots of tears. ”

Nearly 500 fans watched logs on social distancing as they filled the Alaska Railroad Terminal building in Seward for a watch party late Monday afternoon.

When Jacoby was declared the winner, the room burst with cheers, cheers and roars, with the exception of spanos.

“And at that point my tears just started and I just cried ugly for the next 20 minutes,” said she was overwhelmed by her pride.

The watch parties got bigger and bigger as the games progressed. About 60 people turned up for Jacoby’s first race earlier in the week, even though it was shown around 2:30 p.m. Alaska time. It got bigger for the semifinals.

Allon Lefever of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, brought a grandson to Alaska for a special trip and happened to be at an ice cream parlor when Jacoby won gold. He wasn’t watching and couldn’t figure out why the people in Seward, a community of about 2,700 people where downtown streets are named after the nation’s first presidents, were clapping, screaming, and hanging up the windows of cars passing by.

“Then someone at the next table said: ‘Hey, Lydia has just won gold.’ Then someone else says: ‘No, that’s impossible.’ ‘Yes, yes, yes.’ And the place went wild. It was so cool, ”said Lefever after stopping to take photos of the“ Good Luck ”signs that were posted along the pavement.

Many companies support Jacoby by having signs in their shop windows, on tents or in the case of Tammy Nicolas on her T-shirt. It was adorned with the slogan “Go Lydia Go” and featured an Alaskan native design of a fish with the phrase “Too Fast to Freeze”.

“She worked super hard to make it to the Olympics , and we are super proud of her, “said Nicolas, office manager at a gravel extraction and concrete supply company.

” It’s amazing that she is able to work hard and that this community has the support to help her she said.

Clay Peterson has just graduated from Seward High School, where he was a year ahead of Jacoby. You were in the play “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” a few years ago.

“Just before COVID hit, we were all in school and it was an exam to go to the Olympic exams and we had the whole school on that tiny little TV and we all went crazy, “he said.

” That was just then and now she’s in the Olympics and then she won gold, that’s … it is crazy. It’s not hard to pin down for anyone here, “he said.

Jacoby benefited from the fact that the Olympics were a year late due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Solomon D’Amico, one of her assistant coaches at the Swimming club.

“With this extra year you have a whole year to get stronger and faster, to get your technique much faster. She took the ball and ran with it, ”he said. “She really made sure to get the most out of this extra year.”

D’Amico and other coaches also attended the guard party and he said he wasn’t nervous, nothing compared to having her being on the pool deck during the Olympics in Omaha, Nebraska. Instead, he was excited and hopeful. “I knew your mindset was really good, and I knew your physical training was really good and the Team USA environment was really great,” he said > “I wouldn’t say I expected a gold medal, but I expected it to shock the world,” said D’Amico, especially as it has been under the radar of many media outlets.

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