After years of dedicated training, commitment and perseverance, swimmer Jessica Lloyd from Diggle has been chosen to represent Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics in London.
Jessica was selected at the recent Olympic swimming trials, at the Olympic Pool, where she finished in the top four, racing against the best female swimmers in Britain. At seventeen this is a remarkable achievement and it makes her one of the youngest to qualify for Team GB. Jessica, who is currently the seventh fastest British women, will compete as a part of the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team. She only missed a place in the individual events by 0.4 of a second.
Her journey to the 2012 Olympics has not been easy and Jessica has had to remain strong and resolute. She admits her teen years have been difficult and, whilst at Saddleworth School, considered quitting swimming altogether.
From an early age, at Diggle Primary School, Jessica’s talent as a swimmer stood out and at 9 years old was regularly winning local events. She was eventually talent spotted by Oldham Aquatics Swimming Club where she continued to excel. Her progression into international competition followed her move to Manchester Aquatics where she met her current coach, Mark Rose. Following her move to Manchester Jessica became a member of British Swimming’s ‘Beacon Programme’.
Jessica is currently training for more than 25 hours every week and will not rest until two weeks before the Olympics begin. A normal weekday would consist of 6 hours training starting in the pool at 5:30am with a two and half hour session. She then goes to college during the day and returns for a second training session in the pool at 4pm for a three and half hour session. When she gets home at 7:30pm she eats and then completes her homework. Jessica said that, ‘I’m too tired to do anything in the evening. After I have finished my college work I go to bed. I do get some time with my friends at weekend but it’s often just shopping.’
Jessica’s mother and father, Anne and Gary Lloyd, have supported Jessica throughout her swimming career. In addition to attending events and competitions, they get up with her every morning to take her to her training sessions. Gary often takes his sleeping bag in the hope of catching up on his sleep.
Anne said that the build up to the trials was particularly stressful for both Gary and herself as they knew Jessica was capable of qualifying but everything rested on her performance on the day. They said that the stress and tension during the race was unbelievable but the elation and pride felt seeing her qualify was a once in a lifetime experience. Anne said, “I am extremely proud of Jessica and her achievements but all I ever want is for her to be happy.”
Diggle village is very proud of Jessica and earlier this year the Diggle Communtiy Association made her a Diggle Junior Hero. Many people in the village are planning to watch Jessica compete on the 28thJuly and several pubs and clubs in the village are organising big screen events.