Jessica Hardy is a very decorated international swimmer for the United States. She specializes in breaststroke and freestyle events and even holds a couple of world records. Hardy has faced some difficult times in her career, but she has a great attitude and incredible work ethic to keep her going. Check out what Jessica told Soletron about her world records, testing positive for a banned substance, and what it takes to be a world class athlete…
DOB: March 12, 1987
From: Long Beach, California
College: University of California, Berkeley
Strokes: Breaststroke, Freestyle
Gold Medals: 1
World Records: 2
Erin: Which athlete(s) inspired you growing up?
Jessica: “I remember watching the 1996 & 2000 Olympics as a young girl, seeing the American women win medals & hearing our national anthem, wanting to be JUST like them someday. I specifically remember Jenny Thompson being one of them, she was a great role model.”
Erin: What’s your favorite event to swim?
Jessica: “50 breaststroke.”
Erin: What’s been the best moment of your career so far?
Jessica: “Breaking the world record in two events during the same race, at the 2009 US Open, 50 & 100 breaststroke.”
Erin: Very few people get the incredible opportunity to represent their country in the Olympics AND win a gold medal. What was that like for you?
Jessica: “It was cooler than it looks on TV. I get goosebumps just thinking about all of the memories!”
Erin: How demanding is it to be an Olympic-level athlete?
Jessica: “It is more than a full-time job, it is the dedication of your life. I train 4-6 hours a day, watch every morsel of food that goes into my mouth, get plenty of sleep, am constantly going to physical therapy, chiropractors, going to sports psychologists, and I even did brain training last year. It is sometimes hardest to sacrifice fun nights with friends, but it is a lifestyle I wouldn’t trade for the world!”
Erin: Other than swimming, what’s your favorite Olympic event?
Jessica: “I loved watching beach volleyball, and I had a lot of friends play water polo (definitely the sport I would play if I wasn’t as good of a swimmer)”
Erin: In 2008, you tested positive for a banned substance which ultimately led to being a misunderstanding. What was that time like for you mentally?
Jessica: “It was the hardest thing I have gone through to this point. Having the public eye on me during a time where my world was turned upside down was crazy. It was something that I would have never intentionally done, and the entire process was out of my control. I just had to stay positive & lean on the people closest in my life.”
Erin: You’ve competed against the best swimmers from all over the world. Who is your biggest rival/competitor?
Jessica: “I don’t focus on one person or even a group of people. The beauty of swimming is that there will always be pushing you, my goal is to just bring the best out of myself.”
Erin: What’s it feel like to break a world record and know you’re the fasted on the planet in the 50m and 100m breaststroke?
Jessica: “That is something that I still am not sure I feel the magnitude of. As for now, I look at it as my best time, and a time that I continue to strive to better. I don’t want to rest on my laurels and let my ego get too big while I am still racing – I will have time to reflect and soak in all the meanings of that when I retire.”
Erin: When it’s all said and done, what mark do you hope to leave when you retire?
Jessica: “I hope to leave a lasting legacy by my actions. To never give up, no matter what obstacles are placed in front of you, no matter how large or small, no matter how many people are against you, and how big of a mountain you have to climb. Let obstacles drive you to be even BETTER, and to push yourself to be the best you absolutely can be.”
Follow Jessica on Twitter.