A banner supporting Olympic swimmer Lydia Jacoby hangs outside of First National Bank Alaska in her hometown of Seward on Saturday, July 24, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

A banner supporting Olympic swimmer Lydia Jacoby hangs outside of First National Bank Alaska in her hometown of Seward on Saturday, July 24, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Tangled Up In Blue: Go Lydia!

All of Seward was watching with tempered excitement the night of her gold medal swim.

By Kat Sorensen

For the Peninsula Clarion

I had a silly thought yesterday while I was doing a track workout at Seward High School.

“If I keep this up, maybe I’ll get Olympic-level fast.”

I was exhausted after just one or two sprints, definitely should have warmed up more, and had to stop to google “how many track laps makes a mile,” but as I was cooling down, I caught myself being unrealistically optimistic.

No, I don’t actually think my early 30s is when I’m going to start making strides in track and field, fast tracking to the 2024 Olympics. I can’t help but daydream, though. There’s something in the air.

Seward is riddled with signs, posters and more celebrating the Queen in the North, Olympic gold medalist Lydia Jacoby. The 17-year-old swimmer from Seward and of the Seward Tsunami Swim Club shattered expectations when she pushed hard and won the gold medal in the breaststroke in the Tokyo Olympics.

All of Seward was watching with tempered excitement the night of her gold medal swim. When she touched the wall ahead of all the other competitors, our small city erupted! And the celebration has been going since. It’s hard not to get wrapped up in Olympic fever; her win means so much.

As Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post wrote in his column on Lydia:

“There are moments at an Olympics that change a life. There are moments at an Olympics that redefine a town. And there are moments at an Olympics that make you say: ‘That’s why I watch. That’s why I came. That’s what it’s about.’ Lydia Jacoby, daughter of Seward, Alaska, provided just that Tuesday morning, the swim of her life, which means a lot, even if her life has lasted just more than 17 years. Lilly King is the queen of the 100-meter breaststroke, the 2016 Olympic gold medalist and the world record holder. And Jacoby — more accustomed to performing in front of audiences at bluegrass festivals around Alaska than as an athlete on international television — simply stalked her, caught her, passed her and beat her.”

We don’t have an Olympic-sized pool in town, and there aren’t top-of-the-line training facilities. She just had access to a lot of supportive people, the drive, the determination and the skill.

On a good day, I have one or two of those things. But, now alongside Seward, Alaska, and the entire United States, I have a little bit of extra inspiration to push a little bit extra harder thanks to Lydia.

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