“Adversity causes some to break, others to break records.”
When Jessica swam at the 2004 Olympic Trials at age 17 in her hometown of Long Beach, CA, it was one of her first times even competing at a national meet. Hardy finished fifth in a stacked 100m breaststroke field, a result with which she was happy, having decided to quit all of her other sports to focus on swimming exclusively only one year before. Less than a year later, while still a high school senior she qualified for the US National Team. She set a World Record in the 100m breaststroke at her rookie World Championships in 2005, thus becoming the first American woman to hold that record in over 20 years. 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.
Leading up to 2008, Jessica went on to add 2 more World Records, 6 more American Records and 9 international medals for the US. At only 21 years old, Jessica qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympics in four different events: the 100m breaststroke, the 50m freestyle (setting an American Record), the 4x100m freestyle relay, and the 4x100m medley relay.
After finding out that she had tested positive for a banned stimulant, Jessica had to withdraw herself from the 2008 Olympic Team. A sports arbitration panel later 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 equalled her American Record (former World-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 through her social media. A heartfelt thank you goes to all of her fans, followers, enthusiasts, & sponsors for your continued support!