Meet the 2016 USA Olympic Swim Team: Jordan Wilimovsky

Meet Jordan Wilimovsky, who will be swimming in the pool and in open water in Rio. He’ll be the first American to compete both in the pool and in open water at the same Olympics. He talks about the differences between a pool event like his specialty, the 1500 free, where you’re mostly racing the clock for a best time, and an open water race where there are so many variables and competitors aren’t so worried about their times. Wilimovsky, who redshirted this past season to stick to training at home with Team Santa Monica, was the 1650 free B1G Champion in 2015 competing for Northwestern University.

From his SwimSwam bio:

Born in sunny Malibu, CA, 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.

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.

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.

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. 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.

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.

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.

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Best of success to Jordan and coach Dave, a great example of hard work, perseverance and discipline!


Jordan just keeps swimming better and better.

He’s got the endurance to swim the 1500 twice back to back.


Great to see him competing at Olympic level in open water and pool swimming. Lot’s more strategy options in open water making it more interesting than pool swimming, where everyone stays in their lanes. Hope they do it justice on the TV and cover it like the marathon or cycling road race.

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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