“I think it (the World Series) is fantastic! It is exactly what Paralympians need. It is really going to grow the Movement and I am thrilled to be a part of it."
USA’s multiple-swimming Paralympic champion Jessica Long will return to the pool on Saturday (11 March), launching her season at the first stage of the 2017 World Para Swimming World Series in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The 25-year-old, who won one gold, three silvers and two bronzes at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, is excited to participate in this brand-new competition. She believes it will help the sport reach new heights.
“I think it (the World Series) is fantastic! It is exactly what Paralympians need,” she said. “It is really going to grow the Movement and I am thrilled to be a part of it.
“I am looking forward to racing and seeing my best friend and Denmark’s Olympic swimming bronze medallist Lotte Friis. I will participate in the 100m and 400m freestyle S8, and the 200m individual medley SM8.”
After an exhausting 2016, Long will lower the intensity of her trainings for this season and focus on maintaining a good technique. She is currently training for two hours every three or four days per week.
“I am most excited to fall back in love with swimming again,” she said. “I am keeping a feel for the water. Overall, I am thrilled to get back in the water to race and see what I can do.
“I am enjoying some free time before really ramping up to a heavy training schedule. Right now, just keeping a feel for the water and maintaining strength.
“My aims are obviously to lower my times, but also to just enjoy every minute of it.”
The World Para Swimming Championships, set to take place in Mexico City from 30 September-6 October, might be approaching fast, but Long prefers to analyse her performances prior to the start of the Worlds before setting any goals.
“Right now I am focused on kicking off my race season in Denmark,” she said. “Then I will likely race in Sheffield, Great Britain, and Indianapolis, USA. Potentially in Berlin, Germany, as well.
“In addition to the World Series, I am looking forward to a few experiential swim events like the Flowers Sea Swim in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. Depending on my early to mid-season training and performances, I will dial in my goals closer to Mexico 2017.”
Further ahead, competing at a fifth Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, would be another dream come true for the US swimmer. However, Long chooses to move step by step.
“As of now, I am still celebrating Rio and getting through the weeks of training ahead. Of course I think Tokyo will be incredible, but there is a lot of time between now and then. I am taking it day by day,” she said.
The World Para Swimming World Series will take place in five countries across Europe and the Americas, starting in Copenhagen, Denmark, from 11-12 March.
More information, including about live results, can be found at the World Para Swimming World Series website.
The Mexico 2017 World Para Swimming Championships will be held from 30 September-6 October, with around 550 swimmers from more than 60 countries competing.