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Olympic Swimmer Lydia Jacoby
Olympic Swimmer Lydia Jacoby
Photo By Gillette Venus

Lydia Jacoby Reached The “Pinnacle” Of Her Sport At 17, But She’s Not Done Yet

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Not many people can say they’re an Olympic athlete, and even fewer are gold medalists, but Lydia Jacoby is someone who proudly holds both titles. The international swimming champion took home gold and silver medals during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and now, she has her eyes set on qualifying for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. “I’m just excited to compete, but also excited to experience the energy of a big Olympic Games, especially in Paris,” Jacoby tells Her Campus in an exclusive interview. 

Born and raised in Alaska, Jacoby has been swimming all her life. But what started as a safety measure for her parents’ peace of mind, ultimately became one of her greatest passions. “My parents put me in swimming because I grew up around water, so they just wanted me to be not only water safe but just comfortable in and around the water,” Jacoby says. “That’s why I started doing it and it’s still just what I do.”

After graduating as valedictorian of her high school in 2022, Jacoby continued her education (and passion for swimming) at the University of Texas at Austin in the Fall 2022, majoring in textiles and appeal. She also competed collegiately for the Texas Longhorns, earning herself a fair share of nationally recognized accomplishments, including placing third in the 100m Breaststroke at the NCAA Championships in 2023. 

But being a student-athlete is no easy feat. While Jacoby has maintained her academics and competed as a collegiate swimmer simultaneously, she knows how challenging balancing sports with your studies can be and offers advice to those in the same position. 

“I made a list of core values and priorities — family, friends, travel, school, swimming, recovery, and career,” Jacoby says. “As someone who wants to give a hundred percent in everything, I think about the things that are really important to give a hundred percent in. So, don’t worry about giving all of yourself to everything.”

One area Jacoby gives 100% in is her career as an Olympic swimmer. During the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, she won gold in the Women’s 100m Breaststroke, and silver in the Women’s 4x100m Medley Relay. 

With the 2024 Olympic swim trials coming up in June and the 2024 Olympic Games happening in July, Jacoby’s looking forward to giving it her all yet again, but this time with her fans and supporters cheering her on.

“Tokyo was a very unconventional Olympic experience, with no spectators, very locked down, not very much social interaction [due to the COVID-19 pandemic],” she says. “I’m excited to have my family [and] my friends there.”

For Jacoby, competing in the 2024 Olympics isn’t about winning big or taking home a bunch of medals, but instead about making memories with the people she’s with. 

“I essentially reached the pinnacle of my sport at 17 years old with an Olympic gold medal,” she says. “At this point, success for me not only comes from numbers, medals, and records but from enjoying the sport and cultivating that love for [swimming with] the people around me. The Team USA saying was definitely said to us a lot at the [2020] Olympics: ‘Your medals are to be shared and your memories are for you.’”

As the international traveler she is, Jacoby —  who’s currently partnering with Gillette Venus to celebrate “The Power of Smooth” — is looking forward to possibly heading to Europe this summer as a member of Team USA. But as someone who’s no stranger to living away from home and out of a suitcase, Jacoby makes sure she always has her go-to travel essentials. 

“Definitely the Venus Mini. It’s just good to have, you can throw it in any bag,” she says. “I always have my little makeup bag with my main makeup products. I really love Merit Beauty right now with all their products. Also, I’m a big perfume girl, especially with swimming. I always have that faint odor of chlorine, so I use the Gucci Flora perfume [which] I have a little mini of.”

So what’s in store for Jacoby after the 2024 Paris Olympics? As a current college student, she’s eager to find more opportunities outside of the pool. 

“I’d love to work in fashion at some point,” Lydia says. “I think it’d be fun to get into modeling post-Olympics, but we’ll see where the wind takes me.” 

Camille Birdsong is a Her Campus National Writer for the Style section. She writes weekly articles about all things fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and decor. Beyond Her Campus, Camille works as an Associate Producer for CNN Max. She previously worked at NBC News, where she produced heartwarming stories for the TODAY Show audience and viewers nationwide. Camille graduated in 2022 with a B.A. in Journalism and a minor in Leadership Studies at Hampton University. She was the Director and Line Producer of her university’s newscast and has interned at NBC Nightly News, the TODAY Show and the Weekend TODAY Show. Camille is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and is passionate about sharing community-driven stories. In her downtime, she loves creating content, visiting new cafes, and obsessing over reality dating shows.