Jesse Washington aiming to fulfil Olympic Games dream
Jesse Washington has taken aim at booking his place at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The 21-year-old is trying to qualify in the 100m freestyle at the upcoming Games to be held from July 23 to August 8.
The Olympic A qualifying standard in the men’s 100 free stands at 48.57 seconds and the B standard at 50.03. The qualifying deadline expires at the end of June.
“If I was able to qualify and compete at the Olympics it would mean a whole lot to me,” Washington told The Royal Gazette. “Watching the 2008 Olympics where Roy-Allan Burch competed for Bermuda it’s been my dream since then to follow his footsteps and do the same.
“But it wouldn’t only mean a lot to me. It would be a huge deal to my family, my coach Ben [national swimming coach Ben Smith], the Bermuda Olympic Association and Bermuda as whole; all the supporters out there who have helped me along through this long journey.
“I think it would be great to be a role model to younger children as Roy-Allan Burch was to me.
“It would be great to kind of show where an athlete can go from a small nation to competing against the world on the biggest stage.
“The Olympics is the biggest sporting event, so it would mean a lot.”
Washington is fresh off competing at the Amateur Swimming Union of the Americas Tokyo Qualifier held in Orlando, Florida last weekend where he had the opportunity to gauge himself in what was his first time competing on a long course in two years.
He competed in the 50m butterfly, finishing in a time of 25.78, the 50 free, in which he clocked 24.47, as well as in the 100 free (52.27) and 200 free (1:58.05).
“It was great to be back in a long course 50m pool last weekend in Florida as I haven’t raced long course since 2019,” Washington added. “Local competition during the pandemic has also been few and far between.
“I’d like to thank those involved in hosting the competition and the Bermuda Olympic Association and coach Ben Smith for supporting me in getting there.
“As an athlete, you always expect to perform your best times at every major competition.
Unfortunately, the most recent Covid restrictions hindered my final preparation process as I was unable to swim for nearly two weeks leading up to the event and was unable to have a gym workout for an entire month, which ultimately led to underwhelming performances.
“We have all lived through and been impacted by unusual circumstances, so I have not let unusual results discourage me. My performances at the UANA Tokyo Qualifiers have given me a better idea of which event I should focus my training towards moving forward to this summer.
“That event will be the 100 free as I feel I do not have the endurance required to execute the 200 free properly nor the speed required to execute the 50 free properly.”
Washington is optimistic about his chances of achieving his qualifying objective.
“With a consistent block of training over the next few weeks, I believe I will be able to achieve an Olympic B qualifying standard in the 100 free,” he added.
National coach Ben Smith is also optimistic that Washington can be equal to the task given the times he produced in Florida despite the setbacks he encountered prepping for the event.
“Jesse had to deal with all the interruptions of not being able to go to the pool, not being able to go to the gym and preparation going into the meet was interrupted by us going into shelter-in-place,” Smith said. “But he swam really good times considering all of the interruptions that he’s had to go through so we have between now and the deadline to see if we can get him on track.”
Washington was among four Bermudians competing in Florida last weekend which also included siblings Emma and Jack Harvey and Madelyn Moore, who set new women’s national records in the 100 free (56.57) and 50 fly (27.03) and equalled her national record in the 50 free (25.95) at the meet.
Moore, who attends the University of Northern Colorado, is also trying to qualify for this summer’s Olympic Games in the 50 free which is her specialty event.
The A qualifying standard in the women’s 50 free stands at 24.77 and the B standard at 25.51.