What began as an exercise to strengthen his leg has seen Jesse Reynolds go on to become a force to be reckoned with in the world of Para-Swimming.
The 18-year-old former Hamilton Boys’ High School student is ranked sixth in the world in the 400m freestlyle and is determined to continue impressing.
Now studying sport and exercise science at AUT, Jesse is gearing up to qualify for the 2015 IPC Swimming World Champs team and compete in Glasgow.
What’s next? The National NZ Open Championships in Auckland. This is an important meet as it is one of only a few IPC approved events held in New Zealand and the only meet where I am able to make the qualifying standards for the World Champs.
What is your long term goal? To make the Rio 2016 Paralympics team
How and why you became involved in swimming? My parents started me swimming as a baby as it helped to strengthen my leg. I was a real water baby and have always loved swimming. I had a taste of competitive success while competing at the Independence Games (now the Halberg Junior Disability Games). I came first in most of my events and had a blast. In 2008 at the Independence Games in
Taranaki, Malcolm Humm from Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) suggested to my mum that I should be swimming competitively as I had a talent PNZ could be interested in. From there I joined The Fairfield Swim Club and started to swim with the squads. It was soon after that PNZ invited me to be part of the Xcellerate to Xcellence programme.
Who is your coach? Ken Nixon from Fairfield Swim Club has been my coach for the past five years. He has taught me that ‘nothing is ever easy and that practice and patience pays off’. Ken has always believed in me, even when I have doubted myself. However, since moving to Auckland I now train under PNZ National Development Coach Gary Francis at the AUT Millennium.
Why did you decide to become competitive? I guess when Malcolm said that I had potential to be a paralympic swimmer at the Independence Games it got me thinking. I also knew that in the pool I wasn’t the kid with one leg, I was a swimmer. It felt great to be on a ‘level playing field’ with my peers.
How do you juggle study and training? This is probably the hardest thing for me. I am not great at time management. While I was at home mum would often be on my case but now I am flatting I have had to be more focused. As a swimmer you don’t have a lot of ‘spare’ time, all of your time is accounted for in any given day. It is a learning curve to get the balance right but I am getting it…slowly.
Describe your weekly training programme? My training is full on at the moment as I have to train hard to do well at Opens this month. I train in the pool for two hours, nine times a week and I am at the gym three times a week. I also do part-time casual work as a barrister.
What are your future career plans? To gain my Bachelor of Sport and Recreation and to win a Paralympic Games medal.
What are three things you would like to try/experience? Skydiving, winning at a world championship event, bungee jumping
What is your favourite meal? Mum’s Shepherd’s Pie and ambrosia
What is the best advice you have ever been given? More of a quote, but: “Life’s not about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”