Lydia Jacoby, first Alaskan swimmer to win gold, upsets favorite Lilly King

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July 26 (UPI) — In a stunning performance, 17-year-old Lydia Jacoby upset American teammate Lilly King in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke on Tuesday in Japan to become the first Alaskan to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming.

Tatjana Schoenmaker, 24, of South Africa was the fastest off the blocks, but she was forced to take silver as Jacoby overtook her with a surge in the final meters of the race after a strong turn at the wall. King, the 24-year-old world record holder and defending gold medalist, had to settle for bronze.

As her time of 1 minute 4.95 seconds was projected, Jacoby was left open-mouthed in shock before being embraced in congratulations by King.

Asked by a reporter on the sidelines of the pool how she was able to accomplish such a feat, she said, “I don’t know.”

She had raced in the semifinal the day before and said she made sure to stretch herself out before the race Tuesday.

“I was just trying to feel good and feel happy going into it, and I think I did that,” she said.

King responded to the bronze by saying “we love to keep that gold in the U.S.A. family.”

“This kid just had the swim of her life and I am so proud to be her teammate and proud to get the bronze for my country,” she said.

The final medal race at the Tokyo Aquatics Center on Tuesday was the high-water mark for Americans on Day Four in the pool that saw Team USA medaling in three of four final races, which included favorite Ryan Murphy failing to podium in the 100-meter backstroke.

The world and Olympic-record holder in the 100-meter backstroke and defending gold medalist from the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016, got off to a decent start swimming in the middle lane in the race but couldn’t pull through in the end, losing to Russian swimmers.

Murphy was fast off the start but trailed Kliment Kolesnikov, 21, of Russia. It was a close finish that saw Kolensikov winning silver and Russian teammate Evgeny Rylov, 24, taking gold by a hair’s length of 0.02 of a second.

In the women’s 100-meter backstroke, Australian Kaylee McKeown, 20, won gold with a time of 57.47 seconds, Kylie Masse, 25, of Canada winning silver and American Regan Smith taking home bronze.

Smith, who had set an Olympic record in the event a day before, was just outside medal contention at the turn surged into third.

In the men’s 200-meter freestyle, Kieran Smith, 21, who captured bronze on Sunday in the Men’s 400-meter freestyle, failed to medal on Tuesday in the 200-meter.

Britain’s Tom Dean, 21, and Scott Duncan, 24, finished first and second, respectively, with Fernando Scheffer, 23, of Brazil taking third. Smith, who had the second-fastest time in the semifinals, finished sixth.

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