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Students in Focus

Mastering her stroke: Para Swimmer Jasmine Greenwood

Jasmine Greenwood’s sights are firmly set on the upcoming Para Swimming World Championships, with the 2024 Paris Paralympics not long after that. Currently in the first year of her Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Jasmine chose UC because of its Elite Athlete Program and proximity to the Australian Institute of Sport.

At just 18, Jasmine is already an accomplished para-swimmer, medalling at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, 2019 and 2022 Para Swimming World Championships, and Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Growing up in the NSW South Coast town of Sussex Inlet, just over two-and-a-half hours from Canberra, she started swimming from an early age. But when she was six years old, Jasmine acquired a brain injury, following complications from a bout of acute appendicitis. Swimming became a method for her rehabilitation.

“Swimming was easier than learning how to walk again at the time,” she says.

“After a while, rehabilitating my ability to walk and move again, I got back into swim squads and someone at my pool suggested I get classified into multi-class [para] swimming. I did exactly that, and from there I realised I had the potential to make something out of swimming. I aspired to become a Paralympian from then on.”

She made her international debut at the 2017 Canadian Open in Toronto just before her 13th birthday and swam for Australia at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games at 13. While she trains all strokes, Jasmine mostly races in the 50m and 100m Freestyle, 100m Butterfly, and 200m Individual Medley disciplines. She’ll compete in these events and the 100m Backstroke at the upcoming 2023 Para Swimming World Championships in Manchester, from 31 July.

Jasmine has already achieved success in the pool, winning silver at the Tokyo Paralympics (100m Butterfly), gold at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games (200m Individual Medley), and winning gold with a new record (100m Butterfly) at the UniSport Nationals last month, where she also set a record for the 50m Freestyle for her class representing UC.

“While I have already raced at the highest levels of Paralympic swimming, I want to show the world that I’m an experienced and fierce competitor. For the past seven years of my professional career, I have trained in a 25-metre pool in a small coastal town, juggling a full load of face-to-face school,” she says.

“Now that I am living and training at the AIS, I believe that I can make huge improvements and moves in the next few years.”

Jasmine made the move to Canberra to support her swimming career and university study. She’s currently in the first year of a Bachelor of Science in Psychology at UC – her experience of the highs and lows of elite sport igniting her interest in the field – and is considering postgraduate studies too.

“I have found that my knowledge in psychology has helped me better understand my thoughts and emotions in swimming. I think that as an athlete, it is important to consider what you’ll do when you retire, swimming is not something I can do forever, so I am excited that I’ve begun my journey towards my post-swimming career.”

Training as an elite athlete is a full-time gig. Jasmine usually spends between 25 and 30 hours training per week – swimming up to 35 kilometres and completing two gym sessions, two bike sessions, and two Pilates sessions. University study and casual work fill the gaps, but her disability has its own challenges.

“My neurological condition causes me to suffer from extreme fatigue, so I have to carefully manage my training load and commitments, often with a daily nap,” she says.

Despite being an elite Australian para-swimmer for seven years, Jasmine’s family have never been able to travel overseas with her to watch her swim – but an Eldon and Anne Foote Elite Athlete Scholarship will change that. Jasmine was one of nine UC elite student athletes recently awarded a scholarship, alongside fellow swimmer Kayla Hardy.

“Travel is expensive, but the Eldon and Anne Foote Scholarship is making it possible for my Mum and I this year, which I am so incredibly grateful for. The scholarship will also assist me in continuing to study and live in Canberra, away from home, and it’ll take the financial pressure off me while I juggle my swimming, study and work commitments, in the lead-up to this competition.”

Words by Kailey Tonini. Feature image and portrait by Tyler Cherry. Race image by Delly Carr.

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