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Lydia Jacoby receives big welcome as she returns home an Olympian

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 8:34 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A group of over 80 people gathered at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport to welcome home Lydia Jacoby, the newly minted Olympian from Seward, on Wednesday.

This is the first time that Jacoby has returned to the 49th state after becoming the first Alaskan to be named to the U.S. Olympic Swim Team. Many of her friends, family and people in the swim community came to get a glimpse of the 17-year-old Olympian and ask for an autograph.

“It’s huge. We are all so proud of Lydia and we can’t wait to watch her in Tokyo,” said Kaia Reeg, an Alaska swimmer. “It means so much to us. We’ve seen her race in Anchorage, and now she is racing at one of the biggest pools.”

Jacoby said that she knew a few of her friends were going to be there to greet her, but it was a surprise to see the big homecoming.

“It has definitely been crazy processing all of it,” she said. “I am glad I have had a week to process and get ... in my head,” Jacoby said. “It is crazy how much support I have been getting from Alaska and stepping off that plane to see it in person has been amazing.”

The raucous welcome home could also serve as more fuel to her swimming fire, according to her dad.

“That is a big motivator for her, knowing that she has a lot of her support and her friends rooting for her,” Richard Jacoby said.

The support is going to have to continue from a distance, however. Due to the COVID-19 regulations for the Tokyo Games, Jacoby’s parents won’t be allowed to fly there to watch their daughter compete. As a matter of fact, they will only get to see her for the next few days before she takes off to Hawaii.

There, she will be training with the U.S. Olympic Team the month leading up to the Tokyo Games. Jacoby said that she was a bit nervous to be going into camp with some of the most elite swimmers in the entire world, knowing that she is now one of them.

The next time Alaskans will be able to see the Seward swimmer in the pool will be on Sunday, July 25. All events are listed in Australian Eastern Standard Time.

As for the next few days, the family says they want to keep it lowkey to give Jacoby a chance to decompress a little before swimming off to the biggest stage in the world — the Olympic Games.

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