Jordan Wilimovsky Distance Freestyle
Born in sunny Malibu, California, Jordan Wilimovsky attended Malibu High School where he broke three school records. He was a late starter in the pool, taking lessons at 9 years old after he failed a swim test at summer camp. Since then, he has been very successful in the pool as well as in open water, securing spots on the 2012 US and World Junior National Open Water Teams prior to college competition. He also had a strong showing at the 2012 Olympic Trials, placing top 20 in the 1500 meter freestyle as a high schooler. The young distance star took his talents to Evanston, IL, to compete for the Northwestern Wildcats. In 2016 he became the first American to qualify in both open water and pool events at the Olympics.
Despite standing only 5 foot 9 and weighing 145 pounds, Wilimovsky quickly established a knack for distance swimming at Northwestern University. He burst onto the scene at the 2013 Big Ten Championships where he competed in the 400 yard individual medley, 500 yard freestyle, and 1650 yard freestyle. He finished 29th in the 400 IM after dropping nearly 5 seconds off his previous best. He brought down his time in the 500 to 4:23.82 to qualify for NCAAs with a ‘B’ consideration time and place 20th. In his 1650, where he really exceled, Wilimovsky blew past the NU school record (it was 15:08.78 as well as 9 years old) to finish 8th at Big Tens with a 15:03.07 and another ‘B’ cut which qualified him for NCAAs.
WIlimovsky, the first freshman to individually participate at the NCAAs for Northwestern since 2006, further proved himself in March of 2013. Although he did gain a couple seconds in the 500 (he placed 48th), he managed to drop five more seconds in his signature 1,650 (14:58.80) making history as the only Northwestern Wildcat ever under the 15-minute mark. He went on to finish 24th overall.
2014 saw another big year from the Wildcat distance swimmer, who at the Big Ten Championships moved up from 20th in 2013 to 15th in the 500 free, posting a time of 4:22.08 (4:19.86 prelims, B cut). He absolutely crushed the 1,650, finishing with an A cut and a victory in a new best time and school record of 14:42.99.
Wilimovsky’s 500 slipped a bit on the big stage at the 2014 NCAA’s, going up to 4:28.78 which only put him at 51st overall. Nevertheless, he held strong in his mile, following up his gutsy Big Ten swim with a still-impressive 14:44.36 good enough for fourth place overall. At the end of his season, the sophomore was an All-American, NU record-holder in the 1000 and 1650 free, and top Wildcat swimmer in the 500, 1000, or 1650 on the year.
Through winter invite season in 2014-2015, it’s no surprise that Wilimovsky held Northwestern’s top times in the 500, 1000 and 1650 free, as well as the 200 fly and 400 IM. He was the top collegiate finisher in the 1650 free at ATT Winter Nationals (14:51.10) and placed 13th in the 500 free (4:22.02), both solid B cuts.
At the 2015 Big Ten Championships, Wilimovsky defended his 2014 title in the 1650 with a then-nation-leading time of 14:33.50, obliterating his own personal best and school record and positioning himself as one of the favorites for the big race at NCAAs. In addition to that huge swim, Wilimovsky grabbed a bronze in the 500 free (4:14.70).
At the NCAA Championships, Wilimovsky finished in third in the 1650, gaining a few seconds but still putting up a time of 14:36.64, marking his second-ever swim under the 14:40 barrier. He also qualified for the B final in the 500 free, a race in which he finished 15th. After the 2013-2014 season, Wilimovsky had never swam under 14:42 in the mile and his personal best of 4:19.86 in the 500 was his only race having gone under 4:20. After his 2014-2015 season, however, he had broken 14:40 twice in the mile and dipped below 4:20 four different times.
Wilimovsky took the Olympic year off from Northwestern to return to Southern California. He trained under coach Dave Kelsheimer who has been his coach since 2010.
2012 US Open Water Champs/Olympic Trials
In open water competition, Wilimovsky first qualified for junior world and national teams after placing 2nd in the 5k and 9th in the 10k swims at the 2012 US Open Water Championships in April 2012. He finished 17th overall in the 1500m free at the 2012 Olympic Trials, dropping over a second from his previous best to finish 15:33.29. Wilimovsky has brought that time down considerably since that meet.
2012 US Summer Junior Nationals
In August of 2012, he won the 1500 free at the USA Swimming Junior National Championships in 15:23.01 which broke the meet record. Later that week at the World Junior Open Water Championships, he earned two medals as a representative of the USA.
2013 US Open Water Champs/US Open
At the 2013 US Open Water Championships, he finished 4th in both the 5k and 10k races to qualify for the USA National Swimming A Team. He also competed at the 2013 US Open, lowering his best in the 800m free to 8:08.40 which earned him a 13th place finish.
2014 LA Invite/US Summer Nationals
In July of 2014 at the LA Invite, Wilimovsky posted a new best of 15:15.50 in prelims. He gained a small amount, going 15:15.86 in finals, but still won the event. Just three weeks later, at the 2014 US Nationals, he smashed his lifetime best from the LA Invite, going 14:56.34 and putting himself in elite US distance company. He finished third overall, behind only Connor Jaeger and Michael McBroom, the two US distance juggernauts of recent years.
2014 OW Nationals/Pan Pacific Championships
Wilimovsky rose to the challenge outside of the pool in the summer of 2014, as well. He finished second overall in both the 5k and 10k races at the Open Water National Championships, earning himself a ticket to Melbourne, Australia for the 2014 Pan Pacs. Wilimovsky finished 9th overall in the 10k race in Australia. He also competed in a few pool events: the 400, 800, and 1500 free. Wilimovsky’s best finish was 7th in the 1500, where he posted a time of 15:01.43.
2015 FINA Open Water World Championships
In Kazan, Wilimovsky took gold in the men’s 10k open water event to qualify for his first Olympic Games. He finished 12 seconds ahead of a close battle in 2nd and 3rd position, the largest margin in the event history.
2016 U.S Olympic Trials
With his ticket to Rio already punched, Wilimovsky could sit back until the last day of the Olympic Trials to attempt to qualify for a pool event. After the opening stages of the 1,500 meters it was clear the race belonged to either Wilimovsky or Conner Jaeger. The two battled it out the whole way with Jaeger having a slight advantage at most of the turns. Jaeger managed to hold on to finish one and a half seconds ahead of Wilimovsky who finished in 2nd. He became the first American to qualify for the Olympic Games in both an open water and pool event.
2016 Rio Olympics
In his first Olympic Games, Wilimovsky finished just outside the medal positions, finishing 4th in the 1,500 meters in 14:45.03. Three days later he was in the Fort Copacabana for the 10k marathon event, where he finished 5th.