Roderick Sewell Jackson, USA Para Swimmer, Finishes Empire State Run Up

Photo Courtesy: Roderick Sewell Jackson

Roderick Sewell Jackson has been a mainstay on the USA Paralympic Swim Team, but isn’t just competing in the water.

Sewell is branching out to running, hand cycling and a variety of other forms of competition.

Last week, he cranked his competitiveness up a notch when he competed in the annual Empire State Run Up, where participants run up all 86 flights of stairs to raise money for the Challenge Athletes Foundation.

It is not technically a race, but Sewell Jackson wanted to beat his friend’s time of 29 minutes.

“For myself, it was a check off the bucket list. My buddy did it last year in 29 minutes,” Sewell Jackson told Swimming World. “It was never a worry of whether I would finish. It was a matter of beating my friend’s time.”

But that was not the main reason Sewell Jackson participated.

“We raised $70,000 for the Challenge Athletes Foundation. That was the main reasons,” he said. “They fund grants for athletes around the world for training or travel or things like that.”

Sewell Jackson, who lives in Brooklyn, had both legs amputated above the knee before the age of 2. He participated in the event using running blades.

“I have shorter running blades. It is a constant pull and step with my arms,” he said. “It really was a competitive event. It was very different. I am used to running horizontally. That was an interesting thing to figure out.”


Photo Courtesy: Roderick Sewell Jackson

Plus, the conditions are extremely unique.

“It was very hot and dry. People don’t realize how hot and dry it gets in there,” he said.

Making it all the way to the top gave Sewell Jackson plenty of pride, and not just because he beat his friend’s time.

“It is cool because I look at the building now and it is just amazing knowing I went from the bottom to the top in 27 minutes,” he said.

Now he is on to other things.

“Right now I don’t have any big meets this year. Most of my big racing will be at the end of this year and next year,” he said.

He is aiming to make the the Paralympic team in 2020.

“I went to trials in 2016. I think I was a second off the qualifying standard.

In that moment, I was kind of down on myself, but once my coaches and family reminded me of my progress, it was pretty promising,” he said.

Sewell Jackson is spreading his athletic ability into other sports as well.

“Swimming is still my main sport. I swim 4-5 thousand meters every other day, if not more,” he said. “But I have started to do a lot of hand cycling and a lot of running. The rest of the year is pretty interesting with marathon running and iron man competitions. Then when those are done, I can focus on swimming more.”

Sewell Jackson has inspired many of people in the water from what he has overcome. Now that is spreading to other sports, too.

“For others, anyone letting a reason hold them back from trying, but I use myself as an indicator for other people. If a guy with no legs can you it, you can do it,” he said. “There is no limit for anyone.”

Check out more Paralympic news here.

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Sewell Jackson (right); Photo Courtesy: Dan D’Addona

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