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

SWIMMING-OLY-2020-2021-TOKYO
Getty Images
0 Comments

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier win U.S. figure skating pairs’ title in possible final nationals

Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier
Getty
1 Comment

Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier haven’t decided if they’ll compete beyond this season, so Saturday may have been their farewell to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

If so, they went out as dominant winners, the first pair in their 30s to win nationals in more than 50 years.

Knierim, 31, and Frazier, 30, took their second U.S. title together, totaling 227.97 points to prevail by 31.11 over Emily Chan and Spencer Howe. They led by a gaping 15.1 points after Thursday’s short.

Knierim and Frazier were solid after errors on their opening jumping combination in Saturday’s free skate. They broke their own pairs’ margin of victory record from the 2021 U.S. Championships under a scoring system implemented in 2006. Knierim appeared to wipe away tears backstage.

“As I get older, the longer I’m in this sport, the more gratitude I have for it,” Knierim, the oldest woman to win a U.S. figure skating title since 1995 (Renée Roca), said on USA Network. “After that music ended, I’m just thankful that Brandon’s by my side and I’m able to do what I love.”

Ellie Kam and Danny O’Shea bagged bronze to likely round out the three-pair team for March’s world championships.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Knierim and Frazier considered retiring after last season, after they missed nationals due to Frazier’s COVID-19, petitioned onto the Olympic team and posted the best Olympic finish for a U.S. pair (sixth) in 20 years.

They then became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979, beating a field that didn’t include any of the top five from the Olympics.

They returned in part to compete as world champions and rank second in the world this season (during which the top Olympic pairs also haven’t competed). They will likely go into March’s worlds in Japan as underdogs to Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara, who won their lone head-to-head this past fall at the Grand Prix Final.

Back in October, Knierim said this will probably be their last season competing together, though the pair also thought they were done last spring. They don’t expect to make a final decision until after a Stars on Ice tour this spring.

“This U.S. Championships for us was extra special because you’re just reflecting on the journey, and you know that there’s a good chance that this will be your last one,” Frazier said.

Knierim won her fifth U.S. title, tying the record for a pairs’ skater since World War II, joining Kyoka InaTai BabiloniaRandy GardnerKarol Kennedy and Peter Kennedy. Knierim’s first three titles, and her first Olympics in 2018, were with husband Chris, who retired in 2020.

Silver medalists Chan and Howe continued their recent surge. After placing fourth at last season’s nationals, they rank sixth in the world this season. That’s despite summer injuries that left them unable to practice lifts (his shoulder) and throws (her foot) for a while.

Kam, 18, and O’Shea, 31, made the podium four months after becoming a pair and less than two months after a car Kim was riding in was hit by a drunk driver while crossing an intersection. The car was totaled, but Kim and O’Shea still competed days later in Croatia.

O’Shea won the 2016 U.S. title with Tarah Kayne, retired after they split in late 2020, then came back in 2021 with Chelsea Liu. They ranked sixth in the U.S. going into 2022 Nationals, but withdrew beforehand due to concussions both suffered in a November competition fall, according to Figure Skaters Online.

NBC Sports’ Sarah Hughes (not the figure skater) contributed to this report.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships scores, results

2 Comments

Full scores and results from the 2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose …

Women
Gold: Isabeau Levito — 223.33
Silver: Bradie Tennell — 213.12
Bronze: Amber Glenn — 207.44
4. Starr Andrews — 188.24
5. Josephine Lee — 187.68
6. Lindsay Thorngren — 187.19
7. Clare Seo — 175.60
8. Gracie Gold — 173.98
9. Ava Ziegler — 167.70
10. Sonja Hilmer — 166.49
11. Gabriella Izzo — 166.40
12. Ting Cui — 161.27
13. Audrey Shin — 161.12
14. Lindsay Wang — 154.91
15. Michelle Lee — 145.28
16. Elsa Cheng — 138.13
17. Alexa Gasparotto — 129.41
WD. Hanna Harrell

Men’s Short Program
1. Ilia Malinin — 110.36
2. Jason Brown — 100.25
3. Tomoki Hiwatashi — 85.43
4. Liam Kapeikis — 82.27
5. Andrew Torgashev — 78.78
6. Maxim Naumov — 77.71
7. Jimmy Ma — 73.88
8. Goku Endo — 73.45
9. Samuel Mindra — 71.36
10. Yaroslav Paniot — 70.87
11. Camden Pulkinen — 69.47
12. Matthew Nielsen — 67.98
13. Joonsoo Kim — 67.45
14. Daniel Martynov — 64.04
15. Will Annis — 63.46
16. Dinh Tran — 60.63
17. Mitchell Friess — 59.14
18. Joseph Klein — 58.38

Pairs
Gold: Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier — 227.97
Silver: Emily Chan/Spencer Howe — 196.86

Bronze: Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea — 184.01
4. Sonia Baram/Danil Tioumentsev —- 179.08
5. Valentina Plazas/Maximiliano Fernandez — 176.34
6. Katie McBeath/Nathan Bartholomay —- 172.74
7. Maria Mokhova/Ivan Mokhov —- 148.84
8. Nica Digerness/Mark Sadusky — 137.98
9. Grace Hanns / Danny Neudecker — 135.30
10. Nina Ouellette/Rique Newby-Estrella — 132.07
11. Linzy Fitzpatrick/Keyton Bearinger — 129.80

Ice Dance
Gold: Madison Chock/Evan Bates — 229.75
Silver: Caroline Green/Michael Parsons — 207.46
Bronze: Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko — 198.45
4. Emilea Zingas/Vadym Kolesnik — 198.13
5. Emily Bratti/Ian Somerville — 189.84
6. Lorraine McNamara/Anton Spiridonov — 189.15
7. Katarina Wolfkostin/Jeffrey Chen — 183.05
8. Eva Pate/Logan Bye — 182.61
9. Oona Brown/Gage Brown — 181.89
10. Isabella Flores/Ivan Desyatov — 177.31
11. Angela Ling/Caleb Wein — 167.87
12. Leah Krauskopf/YuanShi Jin — 133.93
13. Cara Murphy/Joshua Levitt — 129.85
14. Caroline Depietri/TJ Carey — 123.40
WD. Raffaella Koncius/Alexey Shchepetov

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | New Era for U.S.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!