Lydia Jacoby returns to swimming’s global stage without those famous goggles

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Lydia Jacoby, the Alaskan teen who stormed to Tokyo Olympic gold, returns to major international swimming this week. But she won’t be wearing her famous goggles.

Jacoby, 17, competes at a major meet — the world short course championships in Abu Dhabi (TV schedule here) — for the first time without the pink-rounded Speedo goggles given to her by 2012 Olympian Jessica Hardy Meichtry after a 2017 swim clinic.

“Obviously, I love them,” said Jacoby, who expressed that racing four years in the same goggles is a long time. “I guess it’s bittersweet, but at the same time, I’m kind of ready to move on to a new pair.”

Jacoby isn’t keeping the old goggles back home in Alaska, nor bringing them with her to the University of Texas next year. Instead, they’ll find a new home at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs on loan.

“They wanted them as a token of perseverance,” Jacoby said while in Miami last week for the Golden Goggle Awards, where she won Breakout Performer and Female Race of the Year.

Jacoby visited South Florida for the first time. Average temperatures in her native Seward, Alaska, in December are in the 20s. It was in the 80s on a crowded South Beach on the day of Golden Goggles, more than 5,000 miles from home.

Jacoby, in the first of her award speeches, singled out Meichtry. She told a story from April, when she lowered her personal best in the 100m breaststroke by 1.17 seconds and moved up to No. 2 in the nation at a meet in Mission Viejo, California, near Meichtry’s home. Jacoby, her parents and Meichtry had lunch at the meet.

“[Meichtry] told me that she thought I could take gold in Tokyo,” Jacoby told a Who’s Who of American swimming in a five-star hotel ballroom. “I was like, pfft, no. That’s crazy.”

Meichtry was at one of the tables, tearing up. Jacoby had invited Meichtry to be her Golden Goggles guest.

Meichtry, who has 2- and 3-year-old kids, gave another gift to Jacoby last week: an Olympic rings necklace. Then she shared another story linking the two breaststroke champions, from June’s Olympic Trials.

“[Jacoby] texted me the morning of her 100m breast prelim in Omaha and was like, hey, this might be the first Olympic Trials that you’re not swimming in since 2004, but your goggles are still swimming, you know? And she’s like, I hope I make you proud,” said Meichtry, whose last competition was the 2016 Olympic Trials. “And I was crying hysterically when she wrote that. Oh my gosh, she blew my mind.”

Jacoby finished second to 2016 gold medalist Lilly King in the 100m breast at trials, becoming the first Alaskan to make an Olympic swim team. The next month in Tokyo, Jacoby, again in Meichtry’s goggles, surged past King and South African favorite Tatjana Schoenmaker in the final 50 meters for gold.

Her performance stirred a frenzy in the Dale R. Lindsey Alaska Railroad terminal in Seward.

Four days later, she was back in the pool for the first Olympic mixed-gender swimming relay.

Disaster struck when Jacoby dove into the water. Her goggles slipped down her nose. The strap lodged in her mouth. The eye coverings rested on her cheeks, inside out.

Jacoby still split 1:05.09, just .06 off her time in the women’s medley relay the next night (and faster than any other breaststroker split in the women’s relay).

“It was definitely kind of embarrassing, and also just awful,” Jacoby said last week. “But I feel like I pulled through as best as I could.”

Meichtry, watching the broadcast at home, panicked.

“I was probably more worried than [Jacoby] was,” Meichtry said. “She handled it like a pro. … But I felt so guilty, texting her mom and her immediately, just saying sorry, you don’t have to wear the goggles. I’m so sorry for being the responsible factor in that moment. She’s like, no way, that wasn’t your fault.”

Jacoby said she will still be wearing pink goggles at this week’s short course worlds. But they are ones from her new sponsor Arena. Jacoby said that Meichtry has also helped her navigate the name, image and likeness world that, at the start of this year, she would not have fathomed being a part of.

“I can’t wrap my head around how amazing she’s done and the continued relationship and gratitude that we’ve shared together,” Meichtry said. “I just don’t have words for how much she means to me and how special a person she is.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect name for a museum. It is the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum, not the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee Museum.

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Joel Embiid gains U.S. citizenship, mum on Olympic nationality

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Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said he is now a U.S. citizen and it’s way too early to think about what nation he would represent at the Olympics.

“I just want to be healthy and win a championship and go from there,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Embiid, 28, was born in Cameroon and has never competed in a major international tournament. In July, he gained French nationality, a step toward being able to represent that nation at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the spring, French media reported that Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, quoting national team general manager Boris Diaw.

Embiid was second in NBA MVP voting this season behind Serbian Nikola Jokic. He was the All-NBA second team center.

What nation Embiid represents could have a major impact on the Paris Games.

In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.

That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas BatumEvan FournierTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotFrank Ntilikina and Gobert.

Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.

No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LA 2028, Delta unveil first-of-its-kind emblems for Olympics, Paralympics

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Emblems for the 2028 Los Angeles Games that include logos of Delta Air Lines is the first integration of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic history.

Organizers released the latest set of emblems for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday, each with a Delta symbol occupying the “A” spot in LA 28.

Two years ago, the LA 2028 logo concept was unveiled with an ever-changing “A” that allowed for infinite possibilities. Many athletes already created their own logos, as has NBC.

“You can make your own,” LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said in 2020. “There’s not one way to represent Los Angeles, and there is strength in our diverse cultures. We have to represent the creativity and imagination of Los Angeles, the diversity of our community and the big dreams the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide.”

Also in 2020, Delta was announced as LA 2028’s inaugural founding partner. Becoming the first partner to have an integrated LA 2028 emblem was “extremely important for us,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director, brand marketing and sponsorships.

“It is a symbol of our partnership with LA, our commitment to the people there, as well as those who come through LA, and a commitment to the Olympics,” she said.

The ever-changing emblem succeeds an angelic bid logo unveiled in February 2016 when the city was going for the 2024 Games, along with the slogan, “Follow the Sun.” In July 2017, the IOC made a historic double awarding of the Olympics and Paralympics — to Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028.

The U.S. will host its first Olympics and Paralympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996), ending its longest drought between hosting the Games since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

Delta began an eight-year Olympic partnership in 2021, becoming the official airline of Team USA and the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Athletes flew to this year’s Winter Games in Beijing on chartered Delta flights and will do so for every Games through at least 2028.

Previously, Delta sponsored the last two Olympics held in the U.S. — the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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