Jillian Cox

View Current photo via Courtesy of Jack Spitser

Jillian Cox is an American National Teamer and distance freestyler. Cox has qualified for both Short Course and Long Course World Championships. She is a World Championship Medalist.

Junior/High School Swimming

Cox first made a name for herself when she qualified for the 2020(1) Olympic trials at just 13 when she smashed her personal best to go 4:16.27 in the 400 free at the Fran Crippen Memorial Swim Meet of Champions. At that meet, she also swam an 8:52.34 800 free. She further dropped her 800 free time to 8:44.20 at the Austin Sectionals; she also put up a 4:16.51 400 free. Cox’s time makes her the #6 13-year-old all-time in the 800. 

At just 14, Cox won the 400 free at the 2019 Summer Junior Nationals. The swim, 4:13.24, is a 3-second drop, making her the #9 13-14-year-old. Cox was runner-up in the 800 free, going 8:44.99, a 2020 Olympic Trials cut. 

Cox had a five-second drop in the 500 free prelims at the 2019 Winter Juniors to surge to the #1 spot. With that swim, she also moves up to #22 all-time in the 13-14 age group. Cox came into the meet with a 4:49.56 personal best but went 4:44.75 this morning. Cox added .01 seconds in the final for runner-up. Cox also placed 4th in the 1650 with a 16:24.28, the fastest time from the “slow” heats and a best time by 38 seconds.

Coming out of the COVID lockdowns, Cox, now 15, produced an impressive 4:47.26 in the 500 free at the Austin Swim Club Senior IMX/IMR Challenge in October 2020. Cox went 9:47.54 in the 1000-yard free at the Halloween Spectacular in Austin; the swim is an 8-second drop and moves Cox into the top 100 for the 15-16 NAG.

Cox hit an 8:42.59 in the 800 free at the 2021 TYR Spring Cup in Des Moines. It marks a U.S. Olympic Trials Wave II cut. She also did a season-best 17:02.50 in the 1500. At trials, Cox was 45th in the 400 free (4:22.45) and 23rd in the 800 free (8:47.77).

The 2021 Summer Juniors marked a return to form for Cox. She opened the meet with a win in the 800 free. Her 8:42.11 was a best time. She put up another best time in the 200 free with a 2:01.04 for 2nd. Cox oared to a 400 free victory in 4:13.09, yet another best time. Her final best time came in the 1500 when she dropped 10 seconds with a 16:52.20, good enough for 3rd.

At the 2021 Winter Juniors, Cox posted a 1:47.95 200 free, 4:42.34 500 free, and 16:30.71 mile. The 200 and 500 were best times. At Sectionals in College Station, Cox put up a 1:46.85 200 free, 4:43.40 500 free, 9:37.85 1000 free, 16:11.10 mile. All of the swims were best times except the 500 free At Sectionals in Austin she put up a 50.47 100 free and 4:44.26 500 free.

Cox put up a slew of season bests at the 2022 TYR Pro Swim Series in San Antonio. She put up a 2:01.38 200 free, 8:43.74 800, and 17:13.12 1500 free. She also put up a personal best in the 400 free with a 4:12.93.

In June at the Texas Senior Circuit Meet #3, Cox put up best times of 27.09/56.73/2:00.57 in the 50/100/200 free (LCM). She also went solid times in the 400 (4:14.34) and 800 (8:44.60). The next month, Cox swam at Sectionals in Austin. She had an amazing duel with Olympian Erica Sulivan in the 800. Sullivan, a future teammate of Cox at UT, held off a late charge and just got the touch at the wall, 8:34.38 to Cox’s 8:34.42. Cox put up a 2:00.75 the next day in the 200 free, followed by a 4:11.69 400 free. Cox was also able to drop from her personal best set at trials in the 1500 with a 16:41.80.

At 2023 Sectionals in College Station, Cox put up best times in every single SCY freestyle event from the 50 to the 1650. First was the 1000 where she threw down a massive 9:27.87, a top 10 17-18 NAG performance. Then she took on the 100 free where she put up a 49.35, just her 2nd sub-50 100 free after her prelims swim of 49.43. In the same session, she took on the 500 free, winning by 10+ seconds and dropping about 5 seconds with a 4:37.85. She was particularly good at the end, coming home in a sizzling 26.87 on the final 50. Cox put up a 1:45.31 200 free for another win and on the final day, she put up a stunning 16:03.42 mile. The time was a 7.68 drop. More impressive was her splitting: 5:22.07 on the first 550, 5:25.88 on the middle, and 5:15.47 on the final 550. Most impressive was the 27.95, 27.71, and 26.80 respectively on the final three 50s of the race.  Cox also swam a 23:40 in the 50 free.

At the PSS in Mission Viejo in May, Cox had a great showing, giving a hint of what she had in store at trials. She won the 1500 in 16:31.00 and took 3rd in the 800 in 8:33.36, both of which were in the range of her personal bests. She also took 2nd in the 400 free (4:10.22).

College Swimming (University of Texas)

Cox stayed close to home when she committed to the University of Texas in November of 2021. She was ranked #14 in the class of 2023 way too early rankings, the same rank in the end of junior year re-rank, and #9 in the final re-rank post-senior year.

National/International Swimming

2022 International Team Trials (Greensboro, North Carolina)

At trials, Cox was in excellent form. In the 800 free, she went 8:33.83, good for 6th.  What is more remarkable is that Cox was in the “slow” heats and dropped 8.28 seconds from seed. She then took on the 200 free where she put up a solid 2:01.97 for 21st. Cox had another big drop in store in the 400 free. She was seeded with a 4:12.93 and swam a 4:10.12 in the B final for 10th. Had she done a similar swim in the morning instead of her 4:14.69, cox would have found herself 7th in the A final. Cox wrapped her meet with a 16:47.11 in the 1500, good enough for 14th. Post-meet, it was announced that Cox would compete at Junior Pan Pacs for the U.S.

2022 Summer Junior National Championships (Irvine, California)

Just weeks out of Jr. Pan Pacs, Cox was a major revelation at Summer Juniors. She opened the meet with a near Ledeckian dominance in the 800 free. She was 8:31.34, a 2.5-second drop, and enough to beat the field by 7.6 seconds. A day later, she topped the field again in the 400 free, this time by 4 seconds. Her 4:08.27 was a 2-second best time and Cox’s first time under 4:10. Finally, Cox broke 2:00 for the first time in the 200 free final in a big way. While her 1:58.95 was not enough for the win, it was a big best time and good enough for 3rd.

2022 Junior Pan Pacific Championships (Honolulu, Hawaii)

Cox is fast becoming a big force she continues to drop time. Her first swim was perhaps her best swim. She won the 800 free at 8:30.38, a further 1-second drop from Junior Nats at the start of the month. Cox was able to snatch victory from Aussie Jamie Perkins by a mere .06 seconds. Cox then split 1:59.32 on the championship-record-setting 800 free relay team of Kayla Wilson (2:00.01), Cox, Cavan Gormsen (2:00.51), and Erin Gemmell (1:54.86).

In the 400 free final, Cox blasted a 4:06.64 with a 1.63-second drop. While the swim would have been enough any other year, Cox was beaten by Gemmell (4:05.07). Gemmell, Cox, and Perkins (4:06.84) were all under the previous meet record. In the “slow” heats of the 1500 free, Cox put up the time to beat with a 16:29.16. The swim was a massive 12.64-second drop but after the final heat, Cox ended up 4th. With her 400/800 free swims in Honolulu, Cox was able to put herself on the 2022-23 U.S. National team. 

2022 FINA World Cup (Indianapolis, Indiana)

After being named to the U.S. roster for Short Course World Championships in December, Cox got her first SCM reps in at the World Cup stop in Indy. She had a solid showing of 1:58.98 in the 200 free, 4:05.50 in the 400 free, and 8:22.94 in the 800 free.

2022 Short Course World Championships (Melbourne, Australia) 

Cox was bumped into the final heat of the 800 free thanks to scratches from reigning champ Li Bingjie and #3 seed Simona Quadarella.  The U.S. Coaches made the decision to put Cox on the prelims of the 4×200 free relay. There, Cox split a solid 1:56.03 as the US claimed the top spot. While Cox was not on the finals relay, the American squad took bronze in the final, netting Cox her first senior international medal. Just before her first medal was secured that night, Cox swam the 800 free and ended up 6th in 8:20.95. With a long course seed time, Cox swam in the morning heats of the 1500 free. There, she was second of the morning in 16:09.72 behind teammate Kensey McMahon. McMahon ended up 3rd after the “fast” heat while Cox ended up 8th. 

2023 International Team Trials (Indianapolis, Indiana)

Cox stunned just about every person paying attention to International Team Trials. In the 800 free, she was out quickly, 2:02.40 at the 200 and 4:07.73 at the 400. Cox was able to stay out of the 32s for the rest of the race with a 30.73 on the last 50. Cox’s early speed was too much for World Champion Claire Weinstein to overcome as Cox touched 2nd behind only Katie Ledecky. Her 8:20.28 was a huge 10.1-second drop, one of the most stunning of the meet. Post-race, Cox credited hard training, an improved kick, and a mentality of not counting herself out for her great time. 

The rest of her meet was also pretty remarkable. Cox put up a 4:06:60 in the 400 free to win the B final and a 16:18.40 for 5th in the 1500; both swims were best times. Her one miss came in the 200 free the day after her 800 where she was 2:01.01.

–This biography was originally developed by Lucas Caswell

International Medals

Place Event Year Meet
Bronze 800 Freestyle Relay 2022 Short Course World Championships

Best Times

Course Event Time Date Meet
lcm 200 Free 1:58.95 08/04/22 2022 Summer Junior National Championships
Irvine, California
lcm 400 Free 4:06.60 06/30/23 2023 International Team Trials
Indianapolis, Indiana
lcm 800 Free 8:20.95 06/27/23 2023 International Team Trials
Indianapolis, Indiana
lcm 1500 Free 16:18.40 07/01/23 2023 International Team Trials
Indianapolis, Indiana
scm 800 Free 8:20.95 12/14/22 2022 FINA Short Course World Championships
Melbourne, Australia
scm 1500 Free 16:09.72 12/14/22 2022 FINA Short Course World Championships
Melbourne, Australia
scy 200 Free 1:45.31 03/04/23 2023 Speedo Sectionals
College Station, Texas
scy 500 Free 4:37.85 03/03/23 2023 Speedo Sectionals
College Station, Texas
scy 1000 Free 9:27.87 03/02/23 2023 Speedo Sectionals
College Station, Texas
scy 1650 Free 16:03.42 03/05/23 2023 Speedo Sectionals
College Station, Texas