“Adversity causes some to break, others to break records.”
A story of turning her wounds into wisdom, Jessica continues to inspire with her ability to shine through adversity.
She was 16 years old, swimming in her hometown at the 2004 Olympic Trials, when she came from seemingly nowhere to miss making the team in the 100 breaststroke by .5 of a second, placing 5th. It was an adrenaline rush that initiated her desire to become one of the best.
She made her first National Team the next year, winning three silver medals at the 2005 World Championships. She ultimately dropped 2 seconds from her best time, breaking the world record in the semifinals of the 100 breaststroke, becoming the first American to hold that world record in over 20 years. This surprise performance prompted USA Swimming to name her the breakout performer of the year.
She then went on to compete and study at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was a four-time NCAA Champion and set three American records. She turned “pro” in 2007, in order to return to the coach who helped her rise to success since 2003, Dave Salo. She still trains with Dave today, over 11 years later, as a member of the Trojan Swim Club in Los Angeles.
Between 2005 and 2008, Jessica went on to add 2 more World Records, 6 more American Records and 9 international medals for the US. At 21 years old, Jessica seemingly qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympics in four different events, by winning the 100m breaststroke, second place in the 50m freestyle (setting an American Record), the 4x100m freestyle relay (by placing 4th in the 100 freestyle), and the 4x100m medley relay at the Olympic Trials. Her dreams had finally come true – or so she thought.
The infamous moment of horror came when she found out that she had tested positive for a banned stimulant. By not immediately knowing what the cause of her positive test was, she needed time to build a case to prove her innocence. Jessica had to withdraw herself from the 2008 Olympic Team, crushing her dreams and creating the biggest obstacle she has faced to date. A sports arbitration panel ultimately ruled that she had unknowingly and unintentionally consumed a contaminated nutritional supplement. Her suspension period was set to the minimum possible, one year.
The year that she was ineligible for competition was heartbreaking and the lowest point in her life, but she never gave up. She continued to train hard and to believe in herself. In her very first return competition in 2009, she set three World Records. Two of which World Records were set while swimming in the same race (the 50m and 100m breaststroke), something that has almost never been done. Later that year, she competed in the FINA World Cup series, set 5 more World Records, and was named the overall top female performer.
Leading up to the next Olympics, Jessica won four gold medals at the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships (50m breaststroke, 50m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle, and 4x100m medley relay). With similar fashion in 2011, Jessica was crowned the World Champion in the 50m breaststroke, won a silver medal in the 4×100 freestyle relay, and was named the Duel in the Pool champion in the 100 breaststroke.
At the 2012 United States Olympic Trials, Jessica won the 50 freestyle with a time of 24.50 seconds, and also won the 100 freestyle in 53.96 seconds, thus qualifying to compete in those two events, as well as the 4×100 freestyle and the 4×100 medley relays, at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Finally allowed the chance to fulfill her life-long dreams of competing at the Olympic Games, Hardy won her first Olympic medal, a bronze, in the 4×100 freestyle relay. Swimming the second leg, Jessica helped the team finish with an American record. She also earned a gold medal by swimming freestyle for the winning U.S. team in the preliminary heats of the 4×100 medley relay. In her two individual events, she finished seventh in the 50 freestyle and eighth in the 100 freestyle, which was also a personal best time. She was recognized by USA Swimming with a Golden Goggle Award, their highest honor, a Perseverance Award for her successes after overcoming the 2008 adversity.
The cherry on top of the cake came in 2013, as she won a gold and two bronze medals at the World Championships in Barcelona, Spain. The gold came in the 4×100 medley relay (as the breaststroker), a bronze in the 100m breaststroke, and another bronze in the 50m breaststroke, where she equaled her American Record. In 2014, she was named the Pan Pacific Champion in the 100m breaststroke, and earned a silver medal in the 4×100 medley relay (swimming breaststroke). Having seen her dreams come true in 2012, Jessica is looking forward to enjoying the road to Rio in 2016 with less pressure, and more passion.
A triumphant story of a young woman overcoming heartbreak during the 2008 Olympics to become a multiple World Record-holder and a 2012 Olympic medalist; Jessica’s career has been one of the most unique and inspiring of all time. She continues to compete, eyeing the 2016 Olympics in Rio with more tenacity, courage, and fortitude than most elite athletes can dream of.
Outside of the pool, Jessica frequently gives keynote speeches varying on topics about overcoming adversity, becoming your “best self,” reaching goals, discipline, and more. She enjoys enhancing the competitive competence and confidence of swimmers by providing technique clinics, as well as participating in several philanthropy projects. She married her biggest supporter & long-time boyfriend, Dominik Meichtry, a 3-time Swiss Olympian, in October 2013.
Continue following Jessica’s journey with her frequent updates on this website and by checking in with her on social media. A heartfelt thank you goes to all of her fans, followers, enthusiasts, & sponsors for your continued support!