Who are Lydia Jacoby’s parents? Meet the Alaskan Olympics swimmer’s family

Bruno Cooke July 27, 2021
Who are Lydia Jacoby’s parents? Meet the Alaskan Olympics swimmer’s family
Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images


Alaskan teen swimmer Lydia Jacoby pulled off a “shocking upset” in her 100m breaststroke event today, becoming the first American woman to win a gold medal in at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. A video of her family and friends celebrating at a hometown watch party has gone viral – for good reason – and fans are curious: Who are Lydia Jacoby’s parents, Richard and Leslie Jacoby, and what is her age?

Who is Olympic swimmer Lydia Jacoby?

17-year-old swimmer Lydia Jacoby put her tiny hometown of Seward, Alaska on everybody’s radar today. She became the first US female swimmer to win gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Teammate Lilly King, seven years Jacoby’s senior, took bronze, while Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa came second. Incidentally, in the whole state of Alaska, there is apparently just one 50m swimming pool.

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Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images

Lydia Jacoby still has a year of high school to go, but plans to swim in college for the University of Texas. She also plays the double bass, and sings. In 2018 her band, the Snow River String Band, performed Sweet Verona at Anchorage Folk Festival.

Born on Leap Day, in 2004, Lydia has officially had just four birthdays; her height is 5ft 10in.

Who are Lydia Jacoby’s parents?

Both of Lydia Jacoby’s parents are licensed boat captains in her hometown of Seward, Alaska. 

Her father, Richard Jacoby, is a maritime instructor at the Alaska Vocational Technical Centre. He settled in Alaska after spending a portion of his life working on boats all around the Americas. For the last 20 years, he has run glacier and wildlife cruises in Kenai Fjords National Park.

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A musician like his daughter, Rich plays the Flamenco guitar, and is learning bluegrass guitar and banjo – per his bio on the Zegrahm Expeditions website.

He told USA Today earlier this month, “We live in a harbor town and Alaska’s a water state and we’re boat people.”

“Our motivation originally was just to make sure she was comfortable in the water, knew how to swim.”

What about her mother?

Lydia’s mother Leslie, meanwhile, coordinates the education arm of a marine science program at Kenai Fjords Tours.

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44,000 kids, and counting, have so far participated in the program since it started in 1995. She calls it a “real hands-on experience”, during which students learn about the physical properties of seawater, measure salinity and turbidity, identify marine wildlife and become familiar with aquatic ecosystems.

She ran tour boats before giving birth to Lydia, and describes Seward as “the most beautiful place in the world”.

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Bruno Cooke has been a freelance journalist since 2019, primarily with GRV Media. He was an early contributor to The Focus, and has written for HITC, Groundviews and the Sheffield University newspaper – he earned his MA in Global Journalism there in 2021. He’s the Spoken Word Poetry Editor for The Friday Poem, and self-published his debut novel Reveries in 2019, which his mum called both a “fine read” and “excellent Christmas present”. Bruno has lived in China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines and likes, among other things: bicycle touring, black and white Japanese films, pub quizzes, fermentation and baklava. In 2023, Bruno will set off with his partner on a round-the-world cycle.