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Lydia Jacoby makes history as 1st Olympic gold medalist swimmer from Alaska

Jacoby, 17, normally doesn't even have access to train in an Olympic-sized pool.
Tokyo 2020 Swimming
Lydia Jacoby, 17, cheers after taking gold at the Tokyo Olympics in the 100m breaststroke.Michael Kappeler/dpa / picture alliance via Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Lydia Jacoby, a 17-year-old swimmer from Alaska, made history Monday night after taking home the gold medal in the 100-meter breaststroke.

It was a surprise win over defending champion and teammate Lilly King, who took bronze, while South Africa's Tatjana Schoenmaker earned the silver.

Jacoby is the first Olympic swimmer from Alaska and only the 10th summer Olympian to hail from the state. Footage from the watch party in her hometown of Seward showed her friends jumping up and down as she clinched the win.

Meanwhile her parents, at a watch party in Orlando, Florida, couldn't stop cheering for their daughter.

As NBC commentators noted during the race, Jacoby doesn't even normally train in an Olympic-size pool, which is a standard 50 meters. Her town only has a 25-meter pool that she normally practices in.

Lydia Jacoby (left) celebrates winning gold with Lilly King, who took third, after the final of the women's 100m breaststroke swimming event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 27, 2021.JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP via Getty Images

In an interview following her historic win, she said she was just happy to be there.

"Thank you for all the support and everything over these years, it’s been amazing," she said.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Swimming
Jacoby holds her new gold medal during the victory ceremony after the women's final 100m breaststroke event at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.Sergei Bobylev / TASS via Getty Images

Her teammate, King, was heavily favored to win going into the event after winning gold during the 2016 Rio Olympics. Jacoby, on the other hand, came from behind to take second place in the same event at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, in June. In doing so, she became Alaska's first Olympic swimmer.

"We love to keep that gold in the USA family," King said after Monday's race. "This kid just had the swim of her life and I am so proud to be her teammate."