A goggles catastrophe denied the United States a medal in the mixed medley swimming relay in a moment of incredible misfortune for 17-year-old Lydia Jacoby.
Jacoby’s goggles fell from her eyes just after she dived into the pool for the second leg breast stroke with her team tied in first place and the mishap proved costly as they finished in fifth, three seconds behind winners Great Britain, who set a new world record in the event.
The US had got off to a good start after Ryan Murphy’s backstroke leg left them tied in the lead with Italy but when Jacoby dived in, wearing only one cap rather than the usual two, her googles slipped down to her mouth.
Lydia Jacoby had to swim with her goggles by her mouth after they slipped when she dived in
Jacoby battled on in the relay but had trouble seeing the wall when it came to doing turns
The mishap meant she struggled to see the wall, causing real trouble when it came to her turns.
An impaired Jacoby valiantly battled through her two laps, but the U.S. fell to sixth. The Americans were in eighth when Tori Huske turned it over to Caeleb Dressel, the fastest swimmer in the world, for the closing freestyle leg.
He had far too much of a deficit to make up, only pulling the Americans up to fifth at the finish.
‘I was definitely panicking,’ said Jacoby. ‘My turn was where it was most rough because I couldn’t see the wall.’
Seventeen-year-old Jacoby said she was ‘definitely panicking’ after the goggles mishap
Dressel, who was aiming for six gold medals in Tokyo, said his team’s result was ‘unacceptable’.
‘We didn’t execute well. Fifth-place is unacceptable for USA Swimming, and we’re very aware of that. Our standard is gold,’ he said.
But he added: ‘I think everyone swam as well as they could have in the moment.’
The other countries either went with two men on the first two legs and two women on the last two or women on the opening and closing legs with two men swimming the middle legs.
The British team boasted 100 breaststroke champion Adam Peaty, who moved them from sixth to fourth. Anna Hopkin swam the anchor leg, knowing that Dressel was lurking in the choppy water.
‘He’s so fast, it is a bit intimidating,’ she said.
Caeleb Dressel (in pool, right) dived in last for Team USA and had no chance of catching up
Dressel, who was going for six gold medals in Tokyo, said finishing fifth was ‘unacceptable’
No need to worry, though.
Dressel was over 8 seconds off the lead when he took over.
‘The guys ahead of me got me such a good lead,’ Hopkin said. ‘He wasn’t catching me.’
The U.S. finish doomed Dressel’s chance to win six golds in Tokyo. He earlier led off the winning 4×100 free relay, and won the 100 free and 100 butterfly. He goes for two more golds in the 50 free and 4×100 medley relay on Sunday, the final day of swimming.
For the second time in the Olympics, the U.S. failed to earn a medal in a relay that it entered, after a fourth-place finish in the men’s 4×200 free relay in Tokyo.
‘Next year at worlds, we’ll give it another go and put the pieces together again,’ Dressel said.