Going The Distance: A Day With Jessica Long

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For a little over two weeks next year, the world’s eyes will be fixated on the summer Olympics in Rio. It seems like a deceptively short amount of time when you consider the hours, days and years of training each athlete will put into getting there. As a former Olympian, discovering and telling some of these stories about the road to the Games is one of my favorite perks of being a commentator, because it’s these stories that make those few days in Rio so meaningful. Most recently I got to fly to Baltimore to spend a day with Jessica Long, a Paralympian with incredible drive and an indelible spirit.

Everything about Jessica Long is impressive. A bilateral amputee since 18 months of age, Jessica became extra active using prostheses from a young age, joining her first competitive swim team at 10. Two years later she was competing at the Olympics in Athens as the youngest member of the US Paralympian team and took home three gold medals, nearly breaking the held record for the 100-meter freestyle. Rio will be her fourth Olympics and she is only 23 years old.

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Fast and fearless, Jessica is, remarkably, also a typical 23-year-old girl. In between her training regiment, we spent the day talking about her family (Jessica was adopted from Russia), her boyfriend (check them out on Instagram, they’re so cute), and her hobbies (we share a love for design). Even though there have been many obstacles along the way, you’d never know it from Jessica’s positive energy and outlook. She’s the kind of role model that makes the ultimate Olympian. After a spending a day with her, I look up to her, too.

You’ll be able to see coverage from my day with Jessica closer to Rio but I encourage you to check out some of the other videos from Jessica’s page and get to know this athlete more closely. She may be an Olympic veteran at this point, but I think we’ll be seeing much more of Jessica in the years to come.

This is still just the beginning for Jessica Long.

Xo, Tara

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