Lydia Jacoby, 17, of Resurrection Bay, Alaska, was the last woman standing in the 100-meter breaststroke final. King, the reigning Olympic champion, and Schoenmaker, who set the Olympic record a day earlier, were the other two contenders.
Jacoby’s response echoed that of the rest of the globe, as all three touched the wall and then looked toward the scoreboard.
“What?” she seemed to say. “Wow!”
On a Tuesday morning that saw Russians pushing into what has been American territory for 25 years, Jacoby’s surprising triumph sparked up celebrations in Alaska and salvaged a tough day for Team USA in the treacherous waters of the Tokyo Aquatics Center.
Three earlier finals in the morning saw Great Britain sweep the 200 freestyle and Russia sweep the 100 backstroke, leaving the U.S. with only a couple of bronze medals.
At the Olympic pool, Jacoby’s victory closed off a day that reminded everyone of the absurdity of these Games and the people who put them on.
An announcement regarding mask-wearing and avoiding “clusters” was read by the public address announcer. Athletes from many different countries were gathered on the pool deck at the same time. In Tokyo’s downtown streets, businesses and eateries, there is very little social separation. They are hustled like cattle into buses and into venues, where they are sometimes little more than six inches apart, if not less. As part of an agreement between the Japanese government, Tokyo 2020, the local organizing committee and the International Olympic Committee, spectators have been barred from Olympic sites. Yomiuri Giants and Yakult Swallows, the city’s two professional baseball clubs, played in front of more than 10,000 spectators at Tokyo Dome last week.
Athletes from Russia are not representing Russia, but the Russian Olympic Committee, the IOC continues to claim in its charade. A national Olympic committee, which for decades has run a state-sponsored doping program beneath the nose of the International Olympic Body (IOC), is more reputable than a national Olympic committee.
As Evgeny Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov swept the 100 backstroke, the Russian problem, which is sure to dominate next week’s track and field action, was brought to the surface.
Thirteen of the previous fourteen world records in the event have been established by American swimmers, who have also won the last six Olympic gold medals, including Ryan Murphy’s triumph in Rio de Janeiro four years ago. “But Murphy, the world record holder, couldn’t keep up with the Russians,” he said in an interview. Rylov won gold in 51.98 seconds, Kolesnikov took silver in 52.00 seconds, and Murphy finished third in 52.19 seconds.
Tom Dean nearly held off Duncan Scott in the 200 freestyle earlier in the morning, clocking 1 minute, 44.22 seconds to 1:44.26.
In a time of 57.47 seconds, Australia’s Kaylee McKeown won the 100-yard backstroke in an Olympic record time. Kylie Masse of Canada came in second with a time of 57.72. Gold medalist Regan Smith established the Olympic record in Monday’s quarterfinals (57.86) and finished third in 58.05. Team USA’s Regan Smith finished third in 58.05.
During the 100-yard breaststroke, Jacoby was third at the turn. However, the Tsunami Swim Club athlete should have been able to be seen by those on the field. “It was a great experience for me to be a part of the Olympic squad,” she said of her experience. “It was a great experience for me to be a part of it.” Runner-up Schoenmaker ran 1:05.22 and runner-up King ran 1:05.54.
An hour later, Jacoby still didn’t seem to be feeling the impact of the occasion. Beim Verleihung der Medalie zögerte sie beim Aufstieg auf die Bühne. The Russian anthem had been substituted by Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, which Rylov and Kolesnikov had performed moments earlier.