Lydia Jacoby rewrote the history books in 2021.
She became the first swimmer from Alaska to make the USA Olympic swimming team.
A month later the 17-year-old claimed a stunning and historic win when she claimed Olympic 100m breaststroke gold in Tokyo for another Alaskan first.
“It was crazy,” Jacoby said. “I knew I had it in me but I wasn’t really expecting a gold medal. When I looked up at the scoreboard it was insane.”
There was silver in the medley relay and a demonstration of maturity and perseverance in the mixed medley when her lucky pink goggles slipped down her face after she dived in.
Her achievements were celebrated on social media by film stars Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Garner.
Described as “a ray of sunshine” by USA teammate Regan Smith, Lydia hails from Seward, a city of 2,717 people, where her parents Richard and Leslie are boat captains.
Lydia trained in a 25m pool in Seward and would travel almost three hours to Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, to train in the only 50m pool in the state.
On her return, she rode through the streets in a trailer behind a pickup truck and got a hero’s welcome.
Lydia is competing for Seward High School before heading to the University of Texas and she wants to inspire young women.
“Obviously, I come from a small town,” reported adn.com. “Wherever you’re from and whatever resources you have, with dedication and time you can make it happen.”