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Alaska swimmers John Heaphy and Lydia Jacoby chase history at US Olympic swimming trials

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 9:40 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Two Alaskan swimmers are entering uncharted waters as Seward’s Lydia Jacoby and Eagle River’s John Heaphy will compete in the upcoming U.S. Olympic trials this month in Omaha, Nebraska. The duo is looking to become the first swimmers from Alaska to ever qualify for the Olympics.

Both Heaphy, 20, and Jacoby, 17, are competing in the 100-meter breaststroke. Jacoby is also competing in the 200-meter breaststroke.

“I really am proud of these kids for their commitment to the sport,” longtime Chugiak Aquatics Club coach Anne Williams said. “It’d be so amazing, we would be thrilled to see them make it to Tokyo.”

The two Olympic hopefuls are products of proud local swim clubs. A group of 20 swimmers, coaches and parents from Alaska are expected to make the trip to Nebraska to watch them swim in person, according to Alaska Swimming General Chair Josh Gregory.

The Olympic trials, which will be held June 13-20, were originally meant to take place last summer but were delayed due to COVID-19. This postponement gave the Alaskan swimmers more time to develop in the pool.

Still in high school, Jacoby made a big splash nationally after a second-place finish in the 100-meter breaststroke against Lily King at the TYR Pro Swim Series in April. It was a performance that put the Seward teenager in the Olympic conversation.

“I feel like the top two spots are wide open and I think anybody could take it,” Jacoby shared in a phone interview with Alaska’s News Source after the April race. “I have just as good a shot as any of them at this point.”

Heaphy also took his game to another level during the year delay from the trials, transferring from McKendree University to Arizona State after setting five school records at McKendree.

“Going into trials now it’s mostly having fun, enjoy the experience, and enjoy representing Alaska,” Heaphy said over Zoom. “I hope to provide an opportunity for future athletes, and show you can do it even if you are from a smaller state.”

It’s a chance for the Sun Devil swimmer to get his feet wet against swimmers he grew up watching.

“As a kid, I didn’t think I’d be here but now these guys are more or less my peers,” Heaphy said. “It’s really just an awesome experience.”

The finals of each event can be seen nightly on NBC from June 13-19. The men’s 100-meter breaststroke preliminaries will be held on Sunday, June 13, and the women’s 100-meter breaststroke preliminaries will be held Monday, June 14.

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