Imagen
A picture of a woman swimming

Jessica-Jane Applegate

Swimming
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Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Intellectual impairment
Classification
S14, SB14, SM14

Further personal information

Family
Partner Declan
Residence
England
Occupation
Athlete
Languages
English

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
Her mother took her swimming for the first time when she was an infant. She began training at age 10 at Lowestoft and Oulton Broad Swimming Club in England.
Why this sport?
Her mother wanted her to learn to swim early so she was safe around water.
Club / Team
City of Norwich Swimming Club: England
Name of coach
Alex Pinniger [club], GBR
Training Regime
She does eight two-hour pool sessions per week. She also includes stretching, weights, massage and chiropractic sessions in her weekly routine.

International debut

Year
2012
Competing for
Great Britain
Tournament
Paralympic Games
Location
London, ENG

General interest

Nicknames
Jess (Instagram profile, 09 Feb 2021)
Hobbies
Cycling, walking her dogs. (edp24.co.uk, 04 Feb 2021)
Most influential person in career
Her mother. (edp24.co.uk, 30 Jun 2017)
Hero / Idol
British Para swimmer Ellie Simmonds. (telegraph.co.uk, 02 Sep 2012)
Injuries
In July 2017 she had tonsillitis and laryngitis, which meant she was unable to train ahead of that month's national championships in Sheffield, England. She still competed at the tournament, and set a world record in the S14 100m butterfly. (bbc.co.uk, 01 Aug 2017)

She underwent an operation on her throat nine weeks before the start of the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. She recovered in time to compete at the Games, winning two silver medals and one bronze. (bbc.co.uk, 01 Aug 2017)

She had an operation on the big toe of her left foot one month before the start of the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. She began training again two weeks later and competed at the Games. (telegraph.co.uk, 02 Sep 2012)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"I love being in the water away from everyone. I've always struggled with mental health issues and in the pool I can be in my own little world." (edp24.co.uk, 30 Jun 2017)
Awards and honours
She was named the 2016 Female Sportsperson of the Year at the Norfolk Sports Awards in England. (greatyarmouthmercury.co.uk, 17 Nov 2016)

She was named the 2015 Female Sports Personality of the Year at the Norfolk Sports Awards. (bbc.com, 12 Nov 2015)

She was named the 2015 Para Swimming Athlete of the Year at the British Swimming Awards. (greatyarmouthmercury.co.uk, 05 Oct 2015)

She was appointed Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire [MBE] in the 2013 New Year's Honours list. (bbc.co.uk, 29 Dec 2012)
Other sports
She has competed in able-bodied swimming competitions at national level in the United Kingdom. (bbc.co.uk, 10 Jun 2015)
Milestones
She became the first British swimmer with an intellectual impairment to win a gold medal at the Paralympic Games by claiming victory in the S14 200m freestyle at the 2012 Games in London. (SportsDeskOnline, 02 Sep 2012; telegraph.co.uk, 02 Sep 2012)
Ambitions
To compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (edp24.co.uk, 04 Feb 2021)
Impairment
She has Asperger syndrome. "I really struggle to cope with people socially. I don't like any changes and trying to concentrate on more than one thing is so difficult but my coach is very understanding. We have a timetable for everything so I have a good routine. We make plans to keep calm and we always have a backup plan so I feel safe." (edp24.co.uk, 29 Jun 2013; insidethegames.biz, 22 Feb 2013)
Other information
COVID-19 IMPACT
When she was unable to train normally during the COVID-19 pandemic, she initially took up cycling to maintain her fitness. She was eventually able to do swim training in her back garden after a local hot tub company provided her with a hot tub, before upgrading it to a swim spa. "BHTubs had seen my efforts to keep going throughout the lockdown and they offered to support me with my recovery by providing me with a hot tub to soothe my bruises [from cycling]. I felt like I'd won the lottery. It was unbelievable when it arrived. It was delivered on the back of a lorry then lifted over the garden fence by a crane! I am so grateful for it. The swim spa has settings on it which I can turn higher or lower. These adjust the power of jets of water that push against me. I basically then am able to swim on the spot - the faster I wish to go the higher the jet speed needs to be. It takes a while to get used to and it's hard to go out there when it's icy but I really want to get to Tokyo [the 2020 Paralympic Games] so that's what I have to do." (edp24.co.uk, 04 Feb 2021)

SWIMMING SOLACE
She says swimming has helped her to deal with her impairment. "From the moment I first jumped in the water I knew that I wanted to swim, I felt like I could escape in the water and I could go to a safe place where no one could hurt me. I may not have been very good to start with but having a learning disability has never held me back from achieving my dreams. I know that it isn't easy for people with a learning disability. Lack of understanding about what a learning disability is means that things that everyone takes for granted are made impossible for people with a learning disability. But I'm proof that if you've got the right support, you can do anything and anything is possible." (specialolympicsgb.org.uk, 11 Sep 2019)

OTHER ACTIVITIES
She has volunteered with the food sharing service Olio, which allows users to give surplus food to others rather than wasting it. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 she helped provide food to more than 100 families. In November 2015 she was named an ambassador for the International Sports Federation for Persons with Intellectual Disability [INAS]. (paralympic.org, 18 Nov 2015; LinkedIn profile, 01 Mar 2020; britishswimming.org, 03 Dec 2020)

Results

Unit Date Rank
London 2012 Paralympic Games (London, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m Backstroke S14 Final Round 2012-08-31 4
Women's 100 m Backstroke S14 Heat 2 2012-08-31 1
Women's 200 m Freestyle S14 Final Round 2012-09-02 1
Women's 200 m Freestyle S14 Heat 1 2012-09-02 1
2013 IPC Swimming World Championships (Montreal, Canada)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 200 m Freestyle S14 Heat 1 2013-08-12 1
Women's 200 m Freestyle S14 Final 1 2013-08-12 1
Women's 100 m Backstroke S14 Heat 1 2013-08-14 4
Women's 100 m Backstroke S14 Final 1 2013-08-14 3
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM14 Heat 2 2013-08-18 2
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM14 Final 1 2013-08-18 2
2015 IPC Swimming World Championships (Glasgow, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 200 m Freestyle S14 Heat 1 2015-07-15 2
Women's 200 m Freestyle S14 Final 1 2015-07-15 2
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM14 Heat 1 2015-07-17 2
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM14 Final 1 2015-07-17 2
Women's 100 m Backstroke S14 Heat 1 2015-07-19 2
Women's 100 m Backstroke S14 Final 1 2015-07-19 1
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m Backstroke S14 Heat 2 2016-09-08 2
Women's 100 m Backstroke S14 Final Round 2016-09-08 3
Women's 200 m Freestyle S14 Final Round 2016-09-11 2
Women's 200 m Freestyle S14 Heat 1 2016-09-11 1
Women's 100 m Breaststroke SB14 Heat 1 2016-09-14 4
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM14 Heat 1 2016-09-17 1
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM14 Final Round 2016-09-17 2