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Lydia Jacoby is back in the pool with her home team as Seward swimming prepares for regions

Published: Oct. 29, 2021 at 8:25 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Olympic gold medalist Lydia Jacoby’s time as a Seward Seahawk swimmer is coming to an end as their region and state championship meets take place over the next two weeks.

For a long time, the Seward High School pool has been a special place for Jacoby and her teammates; it’s where they learned to swim, and where they began lifelong friendships.

“I’ve known most of them my whole life, especially some of the seniors like Wren Dougherty, she was like was my first friend. We’ve known each other since birth,” Jacoby said.

That special relationship with teammates has helped her adjust to the spotlight that comes with being an Olympic champion.

“It’s really great with all the changes that have happened in my life post-Olympics to have my support system, it’s been great,” Jacoby said.

Even though Jacoby’s popularity has grown, her teammates don’t view her differently and feel she’s the same person they swam with growing up.

“She’s a really good leader ... we think of her more as a friend,” Seward swimmer Mia Nappi said.

First-year Seward High School head swim coach Solomon D’Amico said Jacoby focused on becoming more of a leader this season as one of three captains for the Seahawks.

“We’ve tried to encourage her to take more of that outspoken role,” D’Amico said. “Which isn’t necessarily a strength or something she’s comfortable with. But it’s fun to see her take it on and it’s been really fun to see her grow into that.”

D’Amico added leadership is important for their team’s development since the skill level of swimmers ranges from beginner to world-class.

“A lot of times the coach’s voice is the classic Charlie Brown teacher,” D’Amico said. “An Olympic champion tells you something (it) carries a little more weight.”

The Seward High School coach hopes his team’s development in the pool can help them finish the season strong. Jacoby and the Seahawks begin the region meet Friday at the Palmer High School pool, with qualifying swimmers and relay teams advancing to the Alaska School Activities Association swimming state championships at Bartlett High School on Nov. 5.

Swimmers at each region meet can qualify to state by winning their event, and the next 12 fastest times statewide will also qualify. Diving events at state will be comprised of each region’s top two finishers, plus the next eight best scoring divers across the state. The relay races at state will be comprised of each region’s champion team, plus the next four fastest relay times statewide.

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