From Tragedy to Triumph: Annie Lazor Wins Bronze 3 Months After Father's Death

Three months after the unexpected death of her dad, swimmer Annie Lazor won a bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

After years of training and a tragic loss, Annie Lazor is an Olympian.

On Friday, the 26-year-old swimmer from Michigan secured the bronze medal in the 200m breaststroke, placing behind South Africa's Tatjana Schoenmaker and United States teammate and friend Lilly King, who won silver. First-time gold medalist Schoenmaker's win made history as she set a world record with her 2:18.95 time.

Making the circumstances even sweeter, the athletes were seen embracing in the pool after finishing the race, a symbol of touching camaraderie at the highest level of the sport.

"Before and after, we're friends," Lazor said during a "Today" show interview, "and when it's happening, we're fierce competitors."

Tatjana Schoenmaker of Team South Africa is congratulated by Lilly King of Team United States, Annie Lazor of Team United States and Kaylene Corbett of Team South Africa
Clive Rose/Getty Images
Tatjana Schoenmaker of Team South Africa is congratulated by Lilly King and Annie Lazor of Team USA and Kaylene Corbett of Team South Africa after winning the gold medal and breaking the world record in the Women's 200m Breaststroke Final at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 30, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.

Reflecting on their support of each other, the American swimmer explained, "When you look up and you see someone who's done something that's never been done before, you can't feel anything other than, 'Wow, I can't believe I was just there for that and I can't believe that I also had the swim of my life swimming next to her.'"

Get to Know the U.S. Swimmers Competing at the Tokyo Olympics

Indeed, Lazor's bronze marks her first Olympic medal, a triumph that comes three months after an unexpected personal tragedy. In late April, she announced to fans that her father David Lazor had died.

"I thought of him, not a lot before I swam, but a lot after I swam," she shared on "Today." "I kind of had a minute to sit to myself today and just thought he would only care about the result because I cared about the result."

The rankings made no difference to her dad.

"He just loved watching me do what I love," she said, "so whether I got third or last today or broke a world record, he just would have loved to see me afterwards and get a nice meal with me."

While he's no longer with her physically, his impact on her remains.

"To get a bronze is amazing," she acknowledged, "but to know that he had that kind of love for me that transcended any kind of results--it was all I needed."

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