6 Fun Facts About First-Time Olympian Jacob Pebley

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick


Editorial Coverage Sponsored By FINIS

By Katie Lively, Swimming World College Intern

After finishing seventh in the 200 back at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, Jacob Pebley moved up to second this year to clench a spot on his first Olympic team.

While Pebley is a relative newcomer to the ranks of the national elite, he’s been making an impression on his coaches and teammates for years. He’s been swimming competitively since age 6, starting with Albany Aquatic Association and later moving to Corvallis Aquatic Team at age 12.

Here are a few fun facts about Pebley from those who know him best:

1. He has the face of a puppy—no matter how he’s feeling.


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Longtime teammate Logan Storie said that growing up, Pebley “always was like a sad, droopy dog; like a bloodhound or something. Whether he was happy, sad, tired, it was always hard to tell how he was feeling.”

Storie said Pebley didn’t show a lot of emotion growing up, which made him hard to read. His innocent puppy look doubles as a great poker face to wear before unleashing in the pool.

2. He may seem emotionless, but he has all sorts of inspiring things to say.

Pebley, Jacob-8

Photo Courtesy: David Farr

CAT teammate Brandon Shreeve recollects one of Pebley’s more motivational quotes: “Going slow slows you down.” No truer words have ever been spoken…

3. Outside the pool, he loves to play basketball—and he’s a pro at injuring himself.

Pebley, Jacob-16

Photo Courtesy: David Farr

Pebley, his father, and his brother all enjoy basketball. Pebley often liked to play on the weekends—pretty aggressively, as CAT Coach Rick Guenther remembered. He frequently injured himself on the court, often spraining his ankle at some inopportune times of the season.

Guenther and Shreeve both recalled one poorly-timed Pebley injury. He blew out his ankle right before a Grand Prix meet in 2012 and was not able to travel to the meet. “It did not go over well,” Guenther said. Shreeve said Pebley ended up injured more often than anyone else on the team. “He had a hypersensitivity to gravity,” Shreeve said.

4. When he’s healthy, it’s hard to have an advantage over him at practice.


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

One day at practice, Guenther had his team do a 3000 for time. Pebley swam it all backstroke with paddles while everyone else did freestyle. He lapped everyone at least once, some twice. “That was a pretty common thing he would do,” Shreeve said. Guenther said Pebley is the happiest swimmer– utterly dedicated to training and racing.

5. While he has an inner confidence, he is also very humble.


Photo Courtesy: Peter Bick

Guenther calls Pebley “the most humble swimmer in the world.” People at his high school had no idea he was a world-ranked athlete. Guenther and Pebley parted ways after Pebley’s 2012 US Open 200 back victory. Pebley shipped off to attend college at Cal-Berkeley and Guenther returned home to Oregon. Pebley gave Guenther his first place medal as a parting gift. Guenther’s sons, ages 6 and 9, have kept it on their shelf ever since.

“So many coaches and athletes back him with amazing passion,” Guenther said. Guenther recalls Pebley giving his teammates high fives after every set. “It often drove me crazy, but it was great team building.”

6. Despite being humble, he likes to celebrate the important achievements with his friends.


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Shreeve once stopped by Pebley’s house and Pebley really wanted to show off his latest and greatest feat. So he took out his GameBoy. Pebley’s friend had helped him beat one of the first Pokemon games earlier that day. Thrilled to have beaten the game, he needed to show Shreeve the evidence that he had made it to the end.

Was this a childhood memory? No, of course not, Shreeve said. Pebley was 18 at the time. “He may be an adult, but he’s really still a kid at heart,” Shreeve said.

We look forward to watching Pebley race his kiddish heart out in Rio.

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7 years ago

Photo three is Austin Katz, not Jacob.

7 years ago

Congratulations, Jacob, on qualifying for the USA Olympic Team. We are really proud of you.

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