13-Time Gold Medal Paralympian Jessica Long Releases Autobiography “Unsinkable”

Photo Courtesy: Mike Lewis & arena

Born in Siberia with fibular hemimelia, Jessica Long was adopted from a Russian orphanage at thirteen months old and has since become the second most decorated U.S. Paralympic athlete of all time. Now, Jessica shares all the moments in her life—big and small, heartbreaking and uplifting—that led to her domination in the Paralympic swimming world in “Unsinkable: From Russian Orphan to Paralympic Swimming World Champion” (on sale June 26, 2018). This photographic memoir, filled with photographs, sidebars, quotes, and more, will thrill her fans and inspire those who are hearing her story for the first time.

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Meet Jessica Long!

Long started swimming competitively at age ten, and she earned three gold medals for the U.S. Paralympic Team in Athens, Greece, at age twelve. She has since won thirteen Paralympic gold medals and has established herself as a positive role model. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaLong and on Instagram at @jessicatatianalong.

In Long’s own words:

  • I’m a double amputee who was born in Siberia, adopted by an American family, and have spent more than a decade as a competitive swimmer.
  • I was born with fibular hemimelia, a birth defect in which all or part of the fibular bone is missing. I didn’t have ankles, heels, or most of the bones in my
    lower legs. One in forty thousand babies are born with this defect every year. The cause is unclear.
  • In 2007, I was the first Paralympian to ever win the James E. Sullivan Award. This award is presented to “the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States” every year by the Amateur Athletic Union.
  • At age fifteen I became a professional athlete with the sponsorship of Nike.
  • In 2007 I was nominated for Best Female Athlete with a Disability for the ESPY Awards. They’re like the Oscars for sports. I won in 2007, 2012, and 2013.
  • In my career I’ve won 13 gold, 6 silver, and 4 bronze medals, making me the second-most decorated Paralympian in U.S. history.
  • On December 2013, I made the long trip from Baltimore to Bratsk, Russia to finally meet my biological family.
  • When I’m not in a pool, I’m hanging out with my parents and five siblings (including my sister Hannah, who co-authored this book!) in Baltimore.

Inside Unsinkable

“I used to say that swimming was my escape, but that’s not accurate. Swimming forced me to deal with the things I wanted to escape. It helped me work through a lot of feelings and frustrations, because I had hours under water just to swim laps and think. I had the freedom to be alone with myself, completely unlimited by my circumstances or my body while doing what I loved. I think that’s why I took to swimming with such ease. All my life I have had to fight to catch up with people. But not in the water. That’s the one place where everyone else is trying to keep up with me!”

“The Paralympics gave me newfound confidence in my prosthetics when I went back home. I started wearing shorts and showing my knees, no longer caring if everyone knew that I didn’t have legs…. I felt as if my life had meaning; my ‘disability’ had meaning.”

“I want to show everyone that our differences are what makes us beautiful and unique.”

“I choose to look at my life in a positive way. If I wasn’t missing my legs, I may not have found swimming.”

“I think swimming prepared me for many moments in my life that have been completely unrelated to sports. Swimming teaches you to push through challenging sets; it teaches you success and how to rise when you’ve fallen down.”

“Give the best of yourself to each and every moment, because it’s your hard work and grace in the daily challenges that prepare you to be unsinkable in the big moments.”

Booklist Starred Review

The photo-illustrated autobiography of an extraordinary young woman who was born in Russia, adopted by an amazing family in Maryland, had both legs amputated below the knee due to a birth defect, and found her passion in swimming, becoming a professional athlete who won 23 medals (13 gold) over a career that spanned 16 years and 4 Paralympics. She’s also an inspirational speaker, fashion model, and ESPY award winner, but still manages to come across as completely likable, down-to earth, and extremely grateful for the support and opportunities that have come her way. Jessica Long tells her story through short chapters devoted to self-defined life-changing moments, with an engaging narrative helped along by plenty of family and professional photos. Her strong love and appreciation for her family shines through (her sister, Hannah, is her co-author), as does her devotion to her Christian faith (there’s no proselytizing, just casual references to her belief and its impact on her daily life). Long also tells of being reunited with her biological family in Russia, and how this brings additional joy into her life. Unique in its coverage of Paralympians, and inspirational on so many levels, this is a great addition for middle school collections.

The above press release was posted by Swimming World in conjunction with arena. For press releases and advertising inquiries please contact Advertising@SwimmingWorld.com.

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Author: Taylor Brien

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Taylor Brien is the Assistant Operations Manager and a staff writer at Swimming World. A native of Bettendorf, IA and a 2015 graduate of Illinois College, she has covered a variety of events since joining the SW team in 2015, including the NCAA Championships, World Championships, Olympic Trials, and 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

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