NCAA Women’s Championships: Lydia Jacoby Storms Home to Steal 100 Breaststroke Title

Lydia Jacoby -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

NCAA Women’s Championships: Lydia Jacoby Storms Home to Steal 100 Breaststroke Title

It was impossible to pick a favorite among four contenders in the women’s 100 breaststroke between defending champion Kaitlyn Dobler of USC, the Texas international-medal-winning duo of Anna Elendt and Lydia Jacoby and Knoxville home favorite Mona McSharry. Indeed, the race was tight the entire way, with Elendt trying to hold off McSharry on the third and fourth lengths, but out of nowhere, Jacoby rocketed over the top to score the win and her first individual NCAA title.

The 19-year-old originally from Alaska is best known for her stunning win in the 100-meter breast at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics when she came from behind to upset American veteran Lilly King and South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker. This collegiate final looked awfully similar to that Olympic race as Jacoby showed off the same finishing speed to slingshot ahead of McSharry and touch the wall in 57.03, 13 hundredths clear of Tennessee’s McSharry, who touched second in 57.16.

Jacoby was an unknown heading into the Olympic season two years ago, but a rapid ascension culminated in her Tokyo golden moment. However, Jacoby could not recapture that magic in 2022, and she missed out on the U.S. World Championships team by less than a tenth, touching fourth in a close 100-meter breast final at the U.S. International Team Trials. But Jacoby has broken through again during her first season with the Longhorns.

“It’s been huge. I had a pretty rough year following the Olympics, and it’s been a lot better, getting that momentum going since I’ve been at Texas. It’s huge for me to come back and do this, kind of prove to myself that I didn’t peak in high school,” Jacoby said. “I think my first 50 was definitely a little bit crunchy. I was just trying to stay with everyone, stay in that mix. I know that I can back-half it, but I still have to be in there to be able to do that, so I was just trying to stay with everyone and then kind of lock in on the way back.”

After her struggles as a high school senior, success in her first season with head coach Carol Capitani and the Longhorns has been immediate. Jacoby attributed that to the motivating team environment in Austin as well as resetting her own mindset to account for her past success.

“I had a pretty big burnout with swimming, and it was a pretty big struggle day-in and day-out to get to the pool. I graduated a semester early. I didn’t have a lot going on outside of the pool either, so it was hard mentally to balance everything. I was struggling with not getting the performance I wanted in the water. A lot of factors, but I’m happy to be back,” she said of her high school senior year.

“Going into the Olympic Trials and Olympics, I was a rookie, and nobody really knew who I was, so I was kind of going through that whole couple months with the mentality that, ‘I’ve never done this. I have so many chances to do it.’ Once I had done it, I kind of got in my head. I was like, ‘I’ve done this. I have to do it again.’ I just kind of switched that mentality around to, ‘I’ve done this, and I have nothing to prove.’ So just swimming freely is the biggest thing.”

As expected, this race brought huge points for the Longhorns with Elendt claiming third in 57.29. Texas had fallen from second place to third behind Stanford, but the 36-point haul from Jacoby and Elendt pushed Texas back into the second spot by 26.5 points over the Cardinal. Jacoby admitted later that arriving at a school with an already-established internationally-ranked breaststroker could have been tricky, but she and Elendt have quickly developed a close and supportive bond.

“I’ve been committed [to Texas] for a long time, so she’s known that I was coming for a long time,” Jacoby said. “I’ve known that she was there for a long time. I was definitely a little bit nervous going into Texas because that relationship could have gone very many ways. We have a great friendship, and we’re going to live together next year.

Dobler, the winner of this event last year, ended up fourth in 57.50, well off her 2022 winning time of 56.93 and also her season-best mark of 56.94 that still ranks first nationally. NC State’s Heather MacCausland was not far off the pace of the headliners as she grabbed fifth in 57.74.

Event 11  Women 100 Yard Breaststroke
         NCAA: N 55.73  3/22/2019 Lilly King, Indiana
         Meet: M 55.73  3/22/2019 Lilly King, Indiana
     American: A 55.73  3/22/2019 Lilly King, Indiana
      US Open: O 55.73  3/22/2019 Lilly King, Indiana
         Pool: P 56.64  12/1/2017 Molly Hannis, TNAQ
    Name                 Year School            Prelims     Finals Points 
                       === Championship Final ===                        
  1 Jacoby, Lydia          FR Texas               57.98      57.03   20  
    r:+0.67  26.93        57.03 (30.10)
  2 McSharry, Mona         JR Tennessee           57.67      57.16   17  
    r:+0.67  26.78        57.16 (30.38)
  3 Elendt, Anna           JR Texas               57.49      57.29   16  
    r:+0.67  26.55        57.29 (30.74)
  4 Dobler, Kaitlyn        JR USC                 57.35      57.50   15  
    r:+0.62  27.05        57.50 (30.45)
  5 MacCausland, Heather   SR NC State            58.14      57.74   14  
    r:+0.62  27.08        57.74 (30.66)
  6 Bach, Hannah           SR Ohio St             58.52      58.08   13  
    r:+0.61  27.29        58.08 (30.79)
  7 Panitz, Josie          SR Ohio St             57.88      58.12   12  
    r:+0.68  27.08        58.12 (31.04)
  8 Weber, Emma            FR Virginia            58.90      58.95   11  
    r:+0.73  28.14        58.95 (30.81)
                        === Consolation Final ===                        
  9 Sim, Letitia           SO Michigan            59.02      58.48    9  
    r:+0.64  27.37        58.48 (31.11)
 10 Gridley, Kaelyn        FR Duke                59.15      58.76    7  
    r:+0.70  28.04        58.76 (30.72)
 11 Vovk, Tara             5Y Miami (FL)          59.14      58.89    6  
    r:+0.71  27.41        58.89 (31.48)
 12 Smith, Skyler          SO UNC                 59.01      58.94    5  
    r:+0.66  27.68        58.94 (31.26)
 13 Peplowski, Noelle      5Y Indiana             59.18      58.99    4  
    r:+0.71  27.88        58.99 (31.11)
 14 Odgers, Isabelle       5Y USC                 59.19      59.06    3  
    r:+0.71  28.26        59.06 (30.80)
 15 Podmanikova, Andrea    5Y NC State            59.13      59.39    2  
    r:+0.67  28.00        59.39 (31.39)
 16 Chue, Christie         SO FIU                 59.10      59.59    1  
    r:+0.62  27.66        59.59 (31.93)
                Women - Team Rankings - Through Event 11                 
  1. Virginia                        309.5   2. Texas                           217.5
  3. Stanford                          191   4. Louisville                      158.5
  5. Ohio St                           138   6. NC State                          126
  7. Florida                           118   8. Indiana                           101
  9. Tennessee                          95  10. California                         80
 11. Lsu                                79  12. UNC                                78
 13. Georgia                          66.5  14. Alabama                            56
 15. Southern California                55  16. Wisconsin                          52
 17. Kentucky                           37  18. Virginia Tech                      25
 19. Minnesota                          24  20. Miami (Fl)                         22
 21. Duke                               20  22. Michigan                           19
 22. Texas A&M                          19  24. Arizona                            17
 25. Arkansas                           12  26. Miami (Ohio)                        9
 26. Northwestern                        9  26. South Carolina                      9
 29. Florida St                          7  29. Auburn                              7
 31. UCLA                                6  32. Arizona St                          4
 33. Utah                                2  34. Florida Int'l                       1
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