Jessica Long Ends Her Fifth Paralympics With an Astounding 29 Career Medals

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 17:  Gold medalist Jessica Long of the United States celebrates on the podium at the medal ceremony for Women's 200m Individual Medley - SM8 on day 10 of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

The Tokyo Paralympics are officially underway, and among Team USA’s brightest stars is swimmer Jessica Long, whose impressive Paralympic career spans nearly 20 years. Since making her Paralympic debut at the age of 12, Long has won an astounding 23 Paralympic medals, making her the second-most decorated Paralympian in US history. Her collection includes 13 gold medals, six silver, and four bronze, across a wide variety of swimming events, strokes, and distances.

Long burst onto the scene in Athens in 2004, where she won three gold medals in the 400m freestyle, 100m freestyle, and the 4×100m freestyle relay. Four years later, in Beijing, she doubled her previous medal haul, taking home six medals overall, including four gold medals in the 400m free, 100m free, 100m butterfly, and 200m individual medley; a silver in the 100m backstroke; and a bronze in the 100m breaststroke.

The 2012 London Paralympics would prove to be Long’s most dominant Games yet. There she won five gold medals (400m free, 100m free, 100m breaststroke, 100m fly, 200m medley), two silver (100m backstroke, 4x100m freestyle relay), and a bronze (4x100m medley relay). Most recently, Long competed in the 2016 Rio Games, where she won gold in the 200m medley; silver in the 400m free, 100m breaststroke, and 4x100m freestyle relay; and bronze in the 100m fly and 100m backstroke.

The only American Paralympian with more medals than Long is Trischa Zorn-Hudson, a swimmer who won an awe-inspiring 67 Paralympic medals between 1980 and 2004, 51 of which were gold. While Zorn-Hudson’s all-time record remains out of reach, Long could add up to seven more medals to her collection in Tokyo. We can’t wait to cheer her on!

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