California girl, Jessica Hardy, was born March 12, 1987 in the city of Orange. She was born to mother, Denise Robinson, a psychotherapist and former Indiana State swimmer, and father, Dave Robinson, an intellectual properties attorney who attended the U.S. Naval Academy. She has a few notable relatives including grandfather, John Tourtellot, was a member of the crew team at Columbia, and he also invented the diamond tip on a record player. Hardy is a sprint breaststroke and freestyle specialist, and former American Record Holder in the 100-meter breaststroke. Hardy has been on top of the international competition for more than 10 years.
This 12-time World-Record holder is a key-note speaker when she’s not training in the pool. She often focuses on overcoming adversity, finding one’s true self and reaching goals. She loves everything water, including stand up paddle boarding, surfing and spending time with family and friends. Hardy is also very involved in charity work, and married three-time Olympic swimmer, Dominik Meichtry, in 2013.
Hardy began swimming at the age of 7 when she began going to the community pool to swim for fun. Her natural competitive nature shown through as a young girl when she noticed the club team at the community pool about to begin practice. Hardy asked her mother if she could “go beat them,” not “go swim with them.”
She grew up swimming in southern California, and eventually attended Wilson Classic High School in the class of 2005. She was Swimming World‘s High School Swimmer of the Year during both her junior and senior high school season, which earned a scholarship to Teri McKeaver’s Golden Bear squad.
As a member of the UC Berkeley swimming team, Hardy chose to only attend the university for two years before making the decision to turn pro. But within those two years, Hardy was a four-time NCAA Division I All-American. Maybe more importantly she met husband, Dominik Meichtry, also a UC Berkeley swimmer and 2008 Swiss Olympian. Since Hardy never graduated with a degree from Cal, she returned to get her degree from ASU.
International breakout years
In 2005, which was also the year she graduated from high school, Hardy competed at the 2005 World Championships. At such a young age Hardy was on the Worlds roster, set to compete in the 100 and 50-meter breaststrokes, and was also a member of the 4×100-meter medley relay. She nabbed three silver medals, picking up a second place in all three events. In the semi-finals of the 100-meter breaststroke she broke the World Record, taking the title form the eventual winner of the event, Leisel Jones.
A year later at the World Short Course Championships Hardy continued on her road for gold. In 2006 she competed in the same three events — 50, 100-meter breaststroke and the 4×100-meter medley relay. This time around Hardy brought back a silver in the relay and a bronze medal in the 50-meter distance.
In 2007 this time competing at the long course World Aquatics Championships, Hardy swam her famous three events. She won her first gold medal at Worlds, taking the top spot in the 50-meter breaststroke. She also added a silver as the breaststroke leg of the 4×100-meter medley relay. In 2007 Hardy turned pro.
Early professional career
Hardy chose to turn professional after two seasons at UC Berkeley, and in her first professional season she competed at the 2008 Short Course World Championships in Manchester. The recent pro won three golds, and broke the World Record in the 50-meter breaststroke, swimming a sub-30 second swim. In the 100-meter breaststroke, she broke the Championship Record twice, once during semi-finals and again in finals.
Positive drug test
At the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials Hardy qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team, but a few months later she was notified that one of her drug tests from trials came back as a positive result. Hardy claimed that she did not take any steroid or stimulant, but rather the positive test was a result of sabotage or a tainted substance.
Although a lack of knowledge about a substance is not a liable defense against a positive drug test, many other athletes have claimed the same. She was handed a one-year suspension from the sport, and subsequently agreed to withdraw from the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team.
In 2009 after her one-year suspension Hardy returned to swimming at the U.S. Open Championships with a bang. She immediately broke the World Record in the 50-meter breaststroke, becoming the first woman under 30 seconds in the long course event. But a few days later, she took gold in the 100-meter breaststroke, breaking her second World Record of the meet.
In October of the same year Hardy competed at the FINA World Cup. She continued her world domination, breaking the World Record in the 50-meter short course breaststroke. And in November she broke her record for the fourth time that year to become the first woman under 29 seconds. At the FINA World Cup, she won $100,000 when she became the overall winner in the female division.
National and international swimming
In 2010 the world saw Hardy really excel in the freestyle events. At the U.S. National Championships she finished second in the 100-meter freestyle, making the American Pan Pacific team, but she failed to make the team in the 100-meter breaststroke, attributing her performance to a poor mental state, and a lot of pressure on the breaststroke events.
With a promise to have fun at Pan Pac’s, Hardy won four gold medals. She won gold in the 50-meter breaststroke, the 4×100-freestyle relay, 4×100-medley relay, and the 50-meter freestyle in a Championship Record time. She also took a sixth-place finish in the 50-meter butterfly. The next year at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai, Hardy won gold in the 50-meter breaststroke.
At the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, Hardy won a spot on the U.S. Olympic in the freestyle events, including the 50-meter and 100-meter distances. And shockingly, she took third in the 100-meter breaststroke, finishing out of a roster spot. In London, Hardy won her first Olympic medal in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay, when the team won a bronze medal in an American-Record time. She finished in the top-eight of her two individual events, but she also won a gold medal as a member of the preliminary heats of the 4×100-meter medley relay.
The following year after London Hardy qualified for the 2013 FINA World Championship Team by winning the 50-meter and finishing second in the 100-meter breaststroke at the U.S. National Championships. At Worlds in Barcelona, Hardy won three medals — bronze in the 50-meter breaststroke and 100-meter breaststroke and a gold as a member of the 4×100-meter medley relay.
A year later in 2014 Hardy competed at the Phillips 66 National Championships, tying for first in the 100-meter breaststroke. Her finish earned her a spot on the Pan Pac’s roster, and at the meet she won the event in addition to her silver medal as a member of the 4×100-meter medley relay.
2015 World Championships
In 2015 Hardy is among the world’s top-10 fastest long course swimmers in the 50 and 100-meter breaststrokes. She qualified for the 2015 World Championships, which were held in Kazan. In the 50-meter breaststroke Hardy started off great taking 3rd in the semi-finals setting her up in a great spot for the final — she dropped .05 seconds from her semi-final swim, but she dropped two places to finish 5th.
Going up in distance, Hardy also competed in the 100-meter breast. In the 100 Hardy was out like lightning in her first 50 meters, but didn’t have the back-half that she needed to advance to the championship final and finished 10th overall. She also swam the breaststroke leg on the U.S. 4×100-meter medley, splitting 1:06.32 to help the squad win a bronze medal.