Jessica Long may have a super common name, but make no mistake — the Paralympic swimmer is impossible to forget. For years now, Long has been a dominant force in her sport. She has competed in the Paralympics since 2004, racking up a whopping 23 Paralympic medals (13 of which are gold), in addition to her 52 World Championship medals.
Long is also outspoken about disability inclusion and why the Paralympics are so important for people with and without disabilities. In a November 2020 interview with Allure, the champion swimmer explained that “‘Para’ means ‘parallel.’ The Paralympics are parallel to the Olympics.” She continued: “I’m proud of my body . . . and it’s just as worthy of celebration.”
Long is clearly a strong competitor in the pool and an equally powerful voice outside of it. Here are eight things you should know about one of Team USA’s most accomplished Paralympic athletes ahead of the Tokyo Games.