Lydia Jacoby, 17, surprised Tuesday by winning the 100m breaststroke at the Tokyo Games ahead of South African Tatjana Schoenmaker and another American Lilly King, crowned in Rio and world record holder. Well back in the second length, she won in 1 min 4 sec 95, combing Schoenmaker (1: 05.22), carried in the stands by the noisy South African delegation, and Lilly King (1: 05.54), part very fast and who had been undefeated over the distance since 2015 in the big league.
The first swimmer from Alaska to qualify for the Games, Jacoby had already been one of the surprises of the American selections by shattering her record by nearly three seconds. She is one of 11 teenagers – including 10 among women – of the American swimming selection, who all benefited from the postponement of the Games to gain a year of training and maturity.
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While no Olympic champion in the 100m breaststroke has ever managed to retain her title, Lilly King arrived with full confidence, in her own strengths but also in those of the American team. “I think in the women, if all goes well, we can bring back all the gold medals individually. Wouldn’t that be pretty cool? Frankly looking at it I think it’s a real possibility“, she declared after the American selections in June.
On arrival in the pool, Lilly King warmly embraced her compatriot then raised her arm. The series, like the semi-finals, had instead highlighted Tatjana Schoenmaker, silver medalist in the 200m breaststroke at the 2019 Worlds in Gwangju and who set a new Olympic record (01: 04.82).
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