For Reynolds, it’s not too soon to swim toward Rio

Young newcomer to the New Zealand swimming team has his sights set high for Montreal, which will be his first major international competition. 12 Jul 2013
Jesse Reynolds in training

Jesse Reynolds will compete in an international competition for the first time at the IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal, Canada from 12-18 August.

ⒸTracey Reynolds
By Lindsay Wyskowski

“If it continues like this worlds will be a great competition. Yes, this is by far the largest event I have competed in, but I think that will only benefit me and help with my performance.”

Jesse Reynolds is relatively new to the international swimming scene, but he already has his sights set on competing for a medal in Rio in 2016.

The 16-year-old will compete in Montreal, Canada, next month for the 2013 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Swimming World Championships, the first international competition of his career.

“My training is going great at the moment,” Reynolds said. “If it continues like this worlds will be a great competition. Yes, this is by far the largest event I have competed in, but I think that will only benefit me and help with my performance.”

His performance at this meet will set his journey to Rio de Janeiro in motion.

Last year for the London Paralympic Games, Reynolds says he was watching his competition on television. One second stood between him and the qualifying meet in Sheffield, which could have qualified him to compete in London. While some may see this as a setback of sorts, Reynolds is still following his plan.

“London was always going to be a long shot and 2016 and 2020 Paralympics have always been the main goals,” he said. “So it has helped me with motivation for the next games to avoid that same disappointment and push for faster times.”

Faster times are a possibility for this young athlete, thanks to his dedication to his sport. In a typical training day, Reynolds is logging four hours in the pool and an hour in the gym. Plus, he’s spending most of his day at school, just like others his age.

The schedule could sound daunting, but it’s all part of the big picture.

Reynolds, who was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency and does not have a right leg, was introduced to the sport of swimming when he was 11. His dreams of competing at an international level were realized when he competed in America in 2012 at the GTAC Disability Open, earning top-three finishes in all of his events.

Even though Reynolds has stacked up a number of top finishes, he still holds one event near and dear.

“My favourite event is the 400-metre freestyle,” he said. “It is the one I have had the most success in and is a very strategic race and requires lots of fitness and skill to do well.”

Though this is Reynolds’ first major international meet, he is confident in his abilities and doesn’t see his age as a factor against his competition.

“I don’t really feel like I have to prove anything because of my age that is different to anyone else,” I would like to prove that I am good enough to be on the team but no more because of my age.”

Reynolds is already enjoying the perks of swimming with his New Zealand teammates, with whom he says he has a great bond. He will join other outstanding New Zealanders in the pool in Montreal, including Sophie Pascoe, Cameron Leslie, and Mary Fisher, who all posted medal-winning performances in London.

Even though Reynolds is young and still has time to make his mark on the international swimming community, he is sure of what he wants to accomplish in the next month and the years ahead.

“My goal for Worlds is to make a final in my 400 free and to gain personal bests in every one of my events and swim to the best of my ability,” he said. “My long term is to compete at the 2016 Paralympic Games and place in the top three.”

And his goals don’t stop there.

“My overall goal is to become the best in the world.”

The competition will take place in Montreal, Canada and will gather 650 of the world’s best swimmers from 60 countries in the biggest international swimming competition since London 2012.