2-time Olympian Jess Ashwood of Australia quietly retired from swimming in 2018 after an impressive career that saw the 26-year-old wreak havoc on her nation’s record boards.
The freestyle ace first made a name for herself at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, where the then-22-year-old earned bronze in the women’s 400m freestyle. Ashwood would go on to finish 7th in the women’s 400m freestyle, 5th in the 800m freestyle and earn a silver medal via her prelims swim as a member of her nation’s 4x200m freestyle relay at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Since, however, she has seen another Aussie teen in the form of Ariarne Titmus take control of the Aussie distance game, wreaking havoc across all free distances from the 200m to the 1500m. Ashwood ultimately wound up withdrawing from the 2016 Short Course World Championships and also the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships 18 months later.
The Sydney Morning Herald produced an article today revealing the hardships the Chandler athlete endured throughout her career. Diagnosed with a mild case of scoliosis at age 13, Ashwood’s condition worsened dramatically. She told SMH that it went from being mild to severe within a year.
“They measure the curves and it depends on the degrees. My first x-rays… I had two curves… they were both in the 40s [degrees].
“Normally if you are young and it’s in the 40s, you would get the surgery done, because it always progresses, just because of gravity. You can get a brace, a plastic thing you wear outside your clothes, but you have to wear it 22 hours a day.
“I would have had to quit swimming. I wasn’t in any pain at that time so we didn’t go ahead with the surgery.”
You can read more about Ashwood’s remarkable story of perseverance here. She still holds the Australian National Record in the LCM and SCM 1500 freestyle and remains the nation’s #2 performer behind Titmus in the 400m and 800m.