Lydia Jacoby, 17, stunned American colleague Lilly King to win the women’s 100-meter breaststroke on Tuesday in Japan, becoming the first Alaskan to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming.
Tatjana Schoenmaker, 24, of South Africa, was the fastest out of the blocks, but she had to settle for silver as Jacoby overhauled her in the final metres following a great turn near the wall. King, the defending gold champion and world record holder, had to settle for bronze.
As her time of 1 minute 4.95 seconds was projected, Jacoby was left open-mouthed in shock before being embraced in congratulations by King.
Asked by a reporter on the sidelines of the pool how she was able to accomplish such a feat, she said, “I don’t know.”
She had raced in the semifinal the day before and said she made sure to stretch herself out before the race Tuesday.
“I was just trying to feel good and feel happy going into it, and I think I did that,” she said.
King responded to the bronze by saying “we love to keep that gold in the U.S.A. family.”
“This kid just had the swim of her life and I am so proud to be her teammate and proud to get the bronze for my country,” she said.
The final medal race at the Tokyo Aquatics Center on Tuesday was the high-water mark for Americans on Day Four in the pool that saw Team USA medaling in three of four final races, which included favorite Ryan Murphy failing to podium in the 100-meter backstroke.
The world and Olympic champion in the 100-meter backstroke, as well as the defending Rio de Janeiro Games gold medalist, got off to a good start in the race, swimming in the middle lane, but couldn’t pull through in the end, losing to Russian competitors.
Murphy got out to a quick start, but he was overtaken by Kliment Kolesnikov, 21, of Russia. Kolensikov took silver while Russian teammate Evgeny Rylov, 24, took gold by a hair’s breadth of a second.
Kaylee McKeown, 20, of Australia, won gold in the women’s 100-meter backstroke with a timing of 57.47 seconds, followed by Kylie Masse, 25, of Canada, for silver, and American Regan Smith for bronze.
Smith, who had set an Olympic record in the event the day before, moved into third place at the halfway point.
Kieran Smith, 21, who won bronze in the men’s 400-meter freestyle on Sunday, failed to medal in the men’s 200-meter freestyle on Tuesday.
Tom Dean, 21, and Scott Duncan, 24, from the United Kingdom, came in first and second, respectively, with Fernando Scheffer, 23, from Brazil, coming in third. Smith finished sixth despite having the second-fastest time in the semifinals.