Swimming news is courtesy of Speedo, a SwimSwam partner.
Speedo, the world’s leading swimwear brand, has today signed Paralympic star and five-time national champion Jamal Hill as its latest athlete ambassador as he bids to reach his first Paralympic Games this summer.
Jamal, who swims in the S10, SB9, and SM10 classifications, is also the co-founder of Swim UP Hill (www.SwimUpHill.com) , a non-profit organization which provides an efficient, cost-effective, learn-to-swim method to help people in underserved communities around the globe and help them to become 100% safe in the water. As part of the initiative, Jamal initially aims to teach one million people to swim.
Aged 10, Jamal was diagnosed with a condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a neurological condition which affects the motor function in his arms and legs. Before this Jamal, who took up swimming as a baby after encouragement from his parents Sandra and James, was competing against able-bodied swimmers and was reluctant to compete in Para swimming.
However, that changed when he met his inspirational coach Wilma Wong in 2018 who told him that he could eventually compete at the Paralympics. The duo began working on how to improve Jamal’s dive technique, taking into account the impact his condition had on his legs. Since then Jamal has been a three-time medallist at the 2019 Para Pan-American Games in Lima, Peru (50m freestyle, silver; 4x100m medley relay, bronze; 4x100m freestyle relay, bronze) and is juggling the task of qualifying for the Paralympics with teaching people in under-privileged communities in Los Angeles to swim as part of Swim UP Hill’s curriculum.
Speaking about signing with Speedo, Jamal said: “I am incredibly proud to be joining Team Speedo and hope this acts as an inspiration to anybody else who is learning to swim or on their own swim journey.
“Speedo is the iconic name in swimming and to partner with them and share a platform to encourage and inspire others is a dream relationship. My work with Swim UP Hill is the reason I get out of bed every morning and to have the support of a brand like Speedo is incredible for us – Los Angeles is my hometown and I am passionate about helping more people to swim.
“In addition, I want to use my profile as a swimmer to promote social justice campaigns. Swimming is my life, but fighting for the rights of other people is what truly matters in the world. I know Speedo will show their support for this and hopefully we can begin to change the tide.”
Sean Kavanagh, Global Director of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship at Speedo, said: “At Speedo our primary belief is that the water should be for everybody and so we are incredibly excited to welcome Jamal into Team Speedo. We love the work Jamal is doing both by being an inspiration in his own right, but also through his work with Swim UP Hill.
“As part of our latest brand campaign, we are spotlighting swimmers who ‘make waves’ in the sport and there is no doubting that Jamal has done that already in his career so far – we want to support him and help him to continue the excellent work he does both in and out of the pool and will be there to assist in many ways through the next phase of his career.”
Ever since he was a young boy, Jamal admits that he felt that his body was different. He struggled with some basic movements and was even hospitalized for a few weeks after becoming paralyzed when he got the flu. Aged nine, Jamal also dislocated his shoulder whilst swimming – an injury attributed to poor technique due to his condition – which saw him leave the pool for several years before returning in his sophomore year.
Speaking about this time, Jamal adds: “For a long time, my condition was a point of shame for me and I never talked about it. I felt cursed by it all, but I needed to switch my mentality – as soon as I stopped treating it as if it were a curse, blessings began to appear and opportunities came with it.”
During this time at college in Ohio, Jamal made the decision to switch from a seasonal swimmer to pursue the sport as a career and dream. After a poor swim at a championship meet, Jamal – with the support and love of his family – decided to give himself the best opportunity to qualify for Tokyo and began to pick up momentum.
In September 2020, Jamal hosted an hour-long Zoom conference titled “Aquatics in Los Angeles” which was dedicated to improving drowning prevention rates, water competency and safety. Alongside four-time Olympic champion Janet Evans and other industry leaders, he spoke about topics such as the future of aquatics in L.A, the need for new standards in basic aquatic education, and how Swim UP Hill will reach its goal of teaching one million people to swim annually by the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Jamal joins an exciting list of American Team Speedo swimmers ahead of the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer including Caeleb Dressel, Kathleen Baker, Ryan Murphy, Abbey Weitzeil, Cody Miller, Kevin Cordes, Nathan Adrian, Hali Flickinger and Becca Meyers.
For more on Swim UP Hill, visit www.SwimUpHill.com or follow Jamal on Instagram and Twitter via the handle @SwimUpHill.
The world’s leading swimwear brand, Speedo® is passionate about life in and around the water, creating revolutionary new technologies, designs, and innovations, and supports swimming from grassroots through to the elite level. In the 1920s, Speedo® made history with the Racerback: the world’s first non-wool suit. In 2008 Speedo® redefined swimwear again with Fastskin® LZR RACER® – the fastest and most technologically advanced swimsuit ever created. 2011 saw Speedo unveil another world first with the Fastskin Racing System – a cap, goggle, and suit designed to work together as one. Speedo® is owned by Speedo Holdings B.V and distributed in over 170 countries around the world. To find out more visit: www.speedo.com.
Jamal Hill Speedo Photo Shoot
Photos courtesy Speedo.