The Olympics: the ultimate dream for any athlete. For Ledyard swimming alumna Jessica Hespeler, who graduated in 2013, this dream is starting to come true. Hespeler, who competes for Virginia Tech, qualified for the Olympics trials in Omaha, Nebraska in 2016.
There are a range of events that a swimmer can compete in, but Hespeler especially shines in the 200 meter freestyle. “When I finished that race and saw the time, it was definitely one of the best feelings I have ever had,” Hespeler said. “My family was in the stands and they were about as happy as I was.”
In Nebraska, Hespeler will have the chance to compete against other U.S swimmers in the trials. If she performs well, she will qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil.
Hespeler’s family had one especially proud member cheering from home, junior Chloe Hespeler. “I felt a huge sense of pride and was so happy to be called her sister,” Chloe said. “She has worked so hard for this and I am so happy her dreams are coming true.”
However, not all athletes will be ready to brag about being talented enough to compete at the Olympic level. “As modest as she is, she didn’t even tell me,” Chloe said. “I found out from my parents.”
All athletes hope to be talented enough to have a shot at the Olympics, but hard work will allow those to get there. Olympic gold is not achieved overnight and neither is the talent. “Knowing all the 5:30 A.M. practices, lifting and double sessions helped me reach my goal gives me even more motivation to continue working hard,” Hespeler said. “It is a great feeling of accomplishment knowing all my hard work paid off.”
Megan Brawner, Sports Editor
Junior Megan Brawner is Sports Editor for the 2014-2015 Colonel. She serves as Secretary for the Junior Class, is a lead runner on the track and cross country teams, and takes pictures for Inner Visions and Teen Ink.