People Made Fun Of This 17-Yr-Old Alaskan For Training With Whales. Then She Won Gold At Olympics

People Made Fun Of This 17-Yr-Old Alaskan For Training With Whales. Then She Won Gold At Olympics

Lydia Jacoby managed to beat Lilly King, the 100-meter breaststroke queen, whom she has been a fan of for many years.

Image Source: Getty Images/Tom Pennington / Staff

Lydia Jacoby became the first Alaskan to make the U.S. Olympic swim team and then went on to become the first Alaskan swimmer to win gold. The 17-year-old made quite the impression with her strong performances in the US trials and Olympic heats. The gold medal she won on Tuesday, helped put her town of Seward, Alaska, on the world map. And this is just her first international competition. A legend was born at the Tokyo Olympics and the legends about her back home started taking a life of their own. Rumors of the high schooler training with sea lions and whales took off.


Seward is a small town and the whole town rallied behind Jacoby. There are "Go Lydia" banners all over town and she is a well-known and loved kid of the town. When people visited their town they could not believe that they even had a pool where Jacoby could train. Zudy’s Cafe decided to go along with this misconception and would casually point out their window at the sea and say the teen trained there. What cafe co-owner Judy Odhner pointed to was Resurrection Bay, a large water body bordering the town. It is surrounded by jagged cliffs, deep coves, and alpine glaciers.



“They can’t believe our teeny-weeny town has a pool,” Odhner told NBC News. “They’d just as easily believe Lydia trains every day out there with the whales and sea lions. So we went with it. I mean, Lydia’s a real Alaska girl, so it’s believable.” Just be clear, Jacoby did not actually train with the whales and sea lions. There is, in fact, a pool in Seward but it is only 25 meters. That is half the length of the Olympics standard pool. There is just one 50-meter pool in the entire state of Alaska, about 120 miles north of Seward at Bartlett High School in Anchorage.



But the length of the pool was not the main problem for Jacoby. The pool was closed because of the COVID restrictions and she was not able to train for nearly two months. She gave up all hopes of qualifying for the Olympics at that point. But when the games were postponed she felt at ease again. “I feel like I’m in a good place now, because when they closed the pool I was really concerned about the Olympics and the trials — it’s not a fair environment, because not everybody’s pools are closed,” Jacoby told Anchorage Daily News last year. “By next summer hopefully everything will get back to where everyone is training again.”


A year after training hard, Jacoby bagged the gold medal at the Olympics. "I was definitely racing for a medal. I knew I had it in me," Jacoby stated. "I wasn't really expecting a gold medal, so when I looked up and saw the scoreboard, it was insane." Her reaction when she saw the results was heartwarming, to say the least. She managed to beat Lilly King, the 100-meter breaststroke queen, who was the gold medalist at the 2016 Olympic gold medalist and the world record holder. “She had the swim of her life today and that’s awesome,” King said of her competitor, who was once a fan of hers, to The Washington Post.


“She’s just a wonderful young woman and just about as humble and sweet as could be,” said Odhner. “It couldn’t happen to a better family.” Hopefully, with the new title that Jacoby has earned, stories of her training with wild aquatic animals can be put to rest. Especially considering how this win would encourage building a new recreation center in Seward, with a swimming pool where Jacoby, as well as future aspiring Olympians, will be able to train.





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