Jacob Pebley, Back in Action, Races to Victory in 200 Backstroke In ISL Competition


Jacob Pebley, Back in Action, Races to Victory in 200 Backstroke In ISL Competition

A few weeks before June’s United States Olympic Trials in Omaha, Jacob Pebley made the surprise announcement that he would not pursue a trip to a second consecutive Olympic Games. The veteran member of Team USA took to social media to explain his decision, citing the pressure to perform and anxiety as primary reasons.

On Saturday, while racing for the D.C. Trident in the International Swimming League (ISL), Pebley won the 200-meter backstroke in 1:50.29, finishing ahead of the Aqua Centurions’ Leonardo de Deus. It was nice to see Pebley back in action and competing for himself and the love of the sport. His performance arrived in Match Four of the ISL season, with the Trident squaring off against the Cali Condors, Los Angeles Current and the Aqua Centurions.

While Pebley advanced to the final of the 200-meter backstroke at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, his fifth-place finish was not satisfying. Pebley found himself obsessed with qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and coming home with a medal. For the former Cal-Berkeley standout, life and the sport were not what he wanted.

“As the days, weeks, months, years following the Games passed, my inner dialogue took its toll on me in the harshest of ways,” Pebley wrote on social media. “It went from a fire of redemption into a desperation to achieve this goal. It went from something I dreamed about, to something I needed in order to be happy.

Pebley’s decision to abandon his chase for a second Olympic nod was made in the best interest of his mental health and is an example for others to dealing with similar struggles.