Hello and welcome to my website! My name is Jessica Long and I am a professional swimmer.
I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, but I am originally from Siberia. I was born with fibular hemimelia, so I didn’t have fibulas, ankles, heels, and most of the other bones in my feet. I was adopted from Russian orphanage when I was 13 months old, along with a little boy from the same orphanage. When I was 18 months old, the rest of my lower parts of my legs were amputated so that I could be fitted for prosthetic legs and learn how to walk. I am one of six children and my parents made sure we all remained active. I have been involved in many sports including gymnastics, basketball, cheerleading, ice skating, biking, running, and rock climbing. However, I always loved swimming the most. I learned how to swim in my grandparents’ pool where my sisters and I would spend hours pretending we were mermaids.
When I was 10 years old, I joined my first competitive swim team. That’s when I learned all four strokes (butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle). I thought I was going to drown the first time I tried to do butterfly across the entire length of the pool, but I was determined to keep going and now butterfly is my best stroke. I hold the world record!
My first international competition was the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece. At the Paralympic trials, my parents were trying to prepare me for not making the team. They knew I was young and hadn’t been swimming very long competitively, but I knew I was going to make it! At 12 years old, I was the youngest athlete on the US Paralympic Swim Team. I won three gold medals and before I knew it, I was traveling and competing all over the world. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to go to Brazil, China, France, South Africa, Japan, The Netherlands, and many other places.
Ten years after joining that first swim team, I am still doing what I love. Swimming has opened up a lot of doors for me, from giving motivational speeches, to winning prestigious awards, to working with great companies like Coca-Cola, Visa, and Ralph Lauren.
I am currently living in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center. Every day I put my heart and soul into training knowing in mere months I’ll be in London at the 2012 Paralympic Games. I’m looking forward to representing the United States again and showing the world just how much you can achieve by never giving up!
Who would have ever imagined that a girl with a “disability” from an orphanage in Siberia would be where I am today? I’m living proof that you can accomplish your dreams, no matter how great or small.
I would like to thank God, my family, friends, and coaches for always encouraging me! I couldn’t be successful without them!