Jessica Long was born in Siberia without fibula bones, ankles, or heals. She was adopted at a year old by U.S. couple Beth and Steve Long and just a few months later had both of her legs amputated below the knees, having a total of 25 surgeries. Long was involved in many sports from an early age, though her love of swimming came from playing in her grandparents’ pool. Swimming allowed her to blow off the steam and frustration that came from being in and out of the hospital. Long joined her first competitive swim team at age 10 and just two years later made her Paralympic Game debut at Athens in 2004, taking home three gold medals. Over the years Long has earned quite an array of Paralympic medals, 23 total, with 13 of them being gold. Given her past record and determination, Long has a good chance to add a couple more medals to the shelf at Tokyo.
Away from swimming:
Long has had a number of creative pieces made about her, including a 60 second Ad that aired during the 2021 Super Bowl, a photographic memoir about her life in 2018, as well as a film following her on a trip to Russia in 2014. She has also written a book with her sister, Hannah, called ‘Unsinkable’. These are just a few of her achievements, not including awards and special honors. Despite all the attention, Long finds her success in aspiring other to be themselves and chase their dreams.
In their own words:
“I’d always loved to swim, and it just felt right. My grandmother found a clipping in a local newspaper about a local swim team and we just decided to try it out. The thing that sold me was that I didn’t have to wear prosthetics.”
“I literally only got into swimming because I was a very angry child! It was where I let out my anger and frustration, but it was also where I felt really free and capable.”
“I wasn’t satisfied with my performance in Rio. I was very burnt out. But I continued to push through the struggles, so here I am and I’m really looking forward to Tokyo.”
- Sport: Swimming
- Limb Difference:
- DOB: 2/29/92
- Residence: Baltimore, MD
- College: none
- Previous Games: 2016|
- Classification: S8/SB7/SM8