Before winning five gold medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, swimmer Jessica Long set six world records at the U.S. Paralympic Trials - Swimming in Bismarck, N.D.
Highlighted by the London 2012 Paralympic Games, called the greatest Games ever by International Paralympic Committee President Sir Philip Craven, 2012 was a thrilling year for the Paralympic Movement in the United States and around the globe. Records were broken and legacies were made. From Dec. 20-31, USParalympics.org will unveil the Top 12 moments of 2012 for U.S. Paralympics in chronological order.
It was a record-breaking Day 1 of the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Trials - Swimming. Four world records, 35 new American records and 11 Pan American records were set June 14 at the Bismarck State College Aquatic and Wellness Center in Bismarck, N.D., with Jessica Long of Baltimore setting three world records.
Long broke her own world mark in the women’s 400m freestyle, which she set in 2009, with a time of 4:44.17. A little more than an hour later, Long bested her own world record mark in the 100m women’s breaststroke (S8) with a time of 1:28.53. Additionally, her 50m split in that race also set a new world record time of 42.07.
“My teammates and I have worked so hard, so it’s always super exciting to see how things turn out at a competition like this,” Long said. “While we have all trained for this, on race day, you just never know - anything can happen.”
Think that was the end of the record breaking for Long?
She added a fourth world mark to her race resume on Day 2 (June 15) in the 100m butterfly (S9) with a time of 1:10.77. On Day 3 (June 16), she set her fifth world record of the meet in the women’s 200m IM (S8) with a 2:37.71 in the morning prelims. During evening finals competition, Long shaved more than a second off her time finishing in 2:36.00 with her sixth world record of the meet.
Long easily made her third consecutive U.S. Paralympic Team with her record breaking in Bismarck. At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, she competed in nine events, winning five gold medals, two silver medals and a bronze medal, making her the most decorated American of the Games.
“My coach and I knew what goals I wanted to achieve, but I didn't really tell anyone my goals or anything,” she said. “I didn't feel like I put a lot of pressure on myself. Of course I always want to do well, but kind of whatever happens happened, and I would have been happy. I’m very happy with my performance, coming home with the eight medals.”
Following the Games, Long was named the United States Olympic Committee’s Paralympic SportsWoman of the Year.
Beth Bourgeois and Doug Williams contributed to this report.