Olympic gold medalist Lydia Jacoby waves to the crowd in Seward during her celebratory parade on Thursday, August 5, 2021. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Olympic gold medalist Lydia Jacoby waves to the crowd in Seward during her celebratory parade on Thursday, August 5, 2021. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Jacoby taking time for herself

After medaling in Tokyo, Olympic champion Lydia Jacoby is enjoying the last of summer before senior year.

Seward’s Olympic gold medalist is winding down from her big wins at the Tokyo games, and said now she’s looking forward to taking some time to regroup at home.

“I’m definitely going to take a few weeks to myself,” Lydia Jacoby, the 17-year-old swimming champion, told the Clarion on Friday.

Jacoby said she had only been back home in Seward for about two days since her Olympic trials competition in Omaha, Nebraska, in mid-June. Although her friends sent her photos of the town’s banners and signs with her face on them, she was still surprised to come home and see them this week.

On Thursday night, Seward even threw a homecoming parade in Jacoby’s honor.

People lined the streets of downtown to welcome home the swimmer, who was riding in a Team USA float with her parents, behind a string of police cars, fire trucks, local lawmakers and Seward Tsunami Swim Club kids.

Jacoby told the Clarion on Friday she was surprised at the number of people who showed up Thursday to cheer her on.

“I had no idea that that many people would come,” she said. “I never expected that.”

Jacoby said the attention has been strange to get used to.

“It’s definitely been a little tough,” she said. “Typically I’m more of a private person.”

But, she said she hopes she’s been able to use her position to inspire other people.

Jacoby returned to her family’s house in Seward early Tuesday morning, with a gold medal for Team USA in the 100-meter breaststroke and a silver medal in the women’s 4×100-meter medley relay.

In the 100-meter finals, Jacoby said Lilly King of the United States and Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa were expected to place.

“They were definitely favored for that race,” she said Friday.

But, Jacoby said she knew if she kept up with them coming off the turn at the halfway point, she had a decent shot at a medal.

“I can come home stronger,” Jacoby said, noting that she’s always been a “back half swimmer.”

She tapped the wall first in that race, beating both King and Schoenmaker to take home the gold.

But now, back home in Seward, the swimming champion is taking a few weeks off and preparing for her senior year at Seward High School.

After graduation she plans on moving down south to swim for the University of Texas at Austin and study fashion design.

For now, Jacoby said she’s really looking forward to being back with her friends and family for the time she has left in her hometown.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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