Roundup: Don’t Wait To Get A Copy Of Jessica Long’s New Children’s Book
by Karen Price
Every other week we scour the web for the latest going on in the world of U.S. Para swimming. Here’s what you missed!
Long Set For Release Of Children’s Book
Jessica Long is one of the country’s most decorated athletes, with 29 Paralympic medals and more than 50 world championship medals, and now she’s also a children’s book author.
Long’s new book, “The Mermaid with No Tail,” is the story of Tatiana, who struggles to find acceptance from the other mermaids but goes on to compete in the Mermaid Games. It’s a story about “overcoming adversity through self-acceptance, hard work, and the loving support of those who believe in you,” with a forward written by Michael Phelps, and is available for preorder now at mermaidwithnotail.org.
Long shared on her Instagram recently:
“Can’t wait to share this message with young readers everywhere,” she said.
Aspden Reflects On World Championships
Hannah Aspden experienced both highs and lows at this summer’s world championships, from being named team captain to falling ill in the middle of the competition. She recently took a moment to look back at the highlights and disappointments of this summer’s world championships, writing, in part:
“I am so very proud of my team and the way everyone supported each other through the highs and lows of competition, cheered and raced their hearts out, and represented well in and out of the pool, despite many of them also battling sickness.”
Read the full post here:
Team USA Athletes Share Their Message
U.S. Para swimmers make statements in the pool every time they compete, but you can sometimes find them making statements with a microphone as well. Four-time Paralympic champ McKenzie Coan posted recently about her gratitude for being part of her third Lead Sports Summit.
Along with photos of her and teammate Colleen Young, she shared, “This one was extra special as I’m still recovering from Bell’s Palsy. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous about delivering the opening night keynote, as just a month prior, I was holding up the left side of my mouth to talk, but it’s incredible what some hard work can do! I never thought I’d be back on stage doing what I love and connecting with people just weeks after my diagnosis.”
Read the whole post here:
Jessica Long was also recently on stage talking about her life, and wrote, “Being a public speaker is something that I could have never imagined I’d become. Fun fact, my very first speech I was 14. It was soooo scary and out of my comfort zone, but I’m so grateful I did it. Speaking has truly brought so much joy and purpose to my life. Sharing my story and hearing other people be vulnerable with their stories is rewarding on many levels. There is something so beautiful when you can connect deeply with another human, whether it’s about triumphs and victories or struggles and loss. This is a such a passion of mine and look forward to the new opportunities coming up this year and beyond!”
The Story Behind The Story
Coan is also an author, having written her memoir “Breaking Free: Shattering Expectations and Thriving with Ambition in Pursuit of Gold” during the delay of the 2020 Paralympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She recently penned an essay for TeamUSA.org about the process of writing, and how she hopes to inspire others with her story the same way swimmers such as Long and Erin Popovich inspired her as she was an up-and-coming athlete.
A sample of what she shared:
“I had to dig deep to tell an accurate and authentic story. It's easy to write about my life's happier times, but I knew the challenges mattered just as much. As a little girl, I wanted to feel I could relate to others as I was in and out of the hospital and navigating a childhood where I didn't fit the typical mold. I had to tell the world I had doubts and fears, too. I wrote about being pulled around in a wagon while in body casts from major surgeries, about training and competing with fractures, and even how I felt about dating with a disability — talk about vulnerability! It felt scary sometimes to divulge some of my deep thoughts and feelings, but I just hoped it could help someone else know they weren't alone.”
Read the essay here.
Helping Team USA Athletes Achieve Their Best
Coach Dave Modzelewski, who works with Paralympian Leanne Smith, was one of six coaches who traveled to Manchester, England, to help lead Team USA athletes at the world championships.
In this profile on him in the Newtown Bee, he says, “It was easily the highest honor that I have achieved in my professional career so far. In the swimming world, the goal for every swimmer, and coach, is to represent your country. It was very exciting to get the call from Director Erin Popovich to be a part of the coaching staff, and get invited to Colorado Springs for a week to work with the team before we departed for England.”
Read the full story here.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to USParaSwimming.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.