Paralympic Swimming Star Jessica Long Ties The Knot

By Chrös McDougall | Oct. 11, 2019, 11:30 p.m. (ET)

Jessica Long prepares to compete at the Para Swimming World Championships on Dec. 3, 2017 in Mexico City.

 

Jessica Long, a 13-time Paralympic gold medalist swimmer, married Lucas Winters on Friday night near her hometown of Baltimore.

Their hashtag, fittingly, was #LongingForWinters, and a handful of Long’s Paralympic teammates were on hand to celebrate.

Fellow Paralympic swimmers Kelley Becherer, Anna Eames and Lizzi Smith were in the bridal party, while 2020 Paralympic swimming hopeful Haven Shepherd documented the evening on her Instagram. One of her stories showed Shepherd posing with Paralympian McKenzie Coan. Of course, she also made sure to snap some pictures with the bride.

“Celebrating my amputee ‘sister’!” Shepherd captioned one photo. “I love you Jess♥️ so glad I get to be a part of your special day!!”

Long, for her part, could be seen in videos busting a move on the dance floor in her custom-designed white dress. On Instagram, she described it as her “dream dress,” adding that it “makes me tear up every time I put it on.”

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Born in Russia with fibular hemimelia, meaning she didn’t have bones in her lower legs and feet, Long was adopted from an orphanage at 13 months and grew up in Baltimore. At 18 months, her legs were amputated below the knees. Upon learning to swim in her grandparents pool, she became one of the most dominant swimmers ever.

In her Paralympic debut in 2004 at age 12, Long won three gold medals. She’s since competed in three more Paralympic Games, and her medal count is up to 13 gold, six silver and four bronze as she aims to make a fifth Paralympics next summer in Tokyo.

Among U.S. Paralympians, only Trischa Zorn-Hudson has won more medals.

Long announced her engagement on Instagram in August 2018 and has since shared regular wedding planning updates with her 34,000 followers. Winters, for his part, has shared plenty of love for his new wife on his own Instagram. Earlier this summer, he shared their engagement story, closing it with a sweet message for his wife-to-be.

“Through the whole engagement you have been a rockstar🤘,” he wrote. “You are so patient and kind to me during this wedding planning process 🎉 I love you so much and can’t wait to see you walk down the aisle 💃 You’re going to be a stunning Mrs. Winters 🧖”

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic Movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.