One-on-One with UK-born Jamaican swimmer Jessica Calderbank Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Jessica Calderbank, hailing from the United Kingdom, experienced a disappointing debut representing Jamaica on Sunday at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar.

Competing in the women’s 100m butterfly, the City of Manchester swimmer failed to advance beyond the preliminary round, clocking 1:01.82 in heat three. This time fell well below her personal best of 1:00.25, which positions her as the second-fastest Jamaican of all time, trailing Alia Atkinson’s national record of 59.94 seconds.

Calderbank’s 1:01.82 mark also falls significantly short of the 100m butterfly Olympic B standard of 58.21.

Three other swimmers – Emily MacDonald, Sidrell Williams, and Josh Kirlew, who is also based in the UK – are representing Jamaica at the championships.

Calderbank, 26, will seek redemption on Friday as she competes in the 50m butterfly event.

The current best time for a Jamaican woman in the 50m butterfly at the World Championships stands at 27.49, achieved by Atkinson in 2019 in South Korea. Atkinson also holds the national record, set a year earlier in Barranquilla, Colombia, during the 2018 Central American and Caribbean meet, with a time of 26.54. She clinched gold with a 26.60 performance.

Calderbank, boasting a personal best of 26.72 from the British Summer Nationals, ranks as the second-fastest woman in Jamaican history.

In an interview with LoopNews before departing for the championships, Calderbank shared insights into her swimming journey and aspirations.

Loop News: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey in the world of swimming?

Jessica Calderbank: I train at the City of Manchester Aquatics, where I also hold the position of female captain. I entered the world of swimming relatively late compared to most, beginning full-time training at the age of 17. Despite this, I quickly experienced success, securing numerous national titles in the 50m and 100m butterfly events over the past few years.

Loop News: What inspired you to pursue competitive swimming, and how did you get started? 

Jessica Calderbank: My mother. She was born in St Thomas, Morant Bay, Jamaica. She decided to enroll me in swimming lessons when I was just three years old. She wanted to ensure that I had the opportunity to learn to swim, as she didn’t have that chance during her upbringing. As I advanced through my swimming lessons and completed all the levels, I desired to continue swimming. At the age of 11, I joined a swimming club, albeit at a lower level. It wasn’t until I turned 17 that I transitioned to full-time training at a higher-level performance swimming club.

Loop News: Making your debut for Jamaica at the World Aquatics Championships is a significant moment. How does it feel to represent Jamaica on the international stage?

Jessica Canderbank: It’s every athlete’s dream to eventually make a national team, compete in the World Championships, or even the Olympics, and I’m super excited to have that opportunity that not many athletes get—to represent their nation on an international stage. Since qualifying, finding out I was shortlisted, and then being selected to go, it all happened quite quickly, and I didn’t have a chance to process it straight away! But I’m super excited to go; I’m looking forward to the experience and having the chance to perform to the best of my abilities. I feel very proud and honored.

Loop News: What are your goals for the World Aquatics Championships?

Jessica Canderbank: My goals are to achieve some of the things I have been working on in training, such as my stroke rate and stroke count targets. Being able to maintain the pace and efforts that I’ve been working on in training would give me the best chance of achieving my best possible performance. Additionally, I aim to set myself up for a strong season, particularly this year as it is the Olympic year. I want to enable myself to post the best possible times I can.

Loop News: Are there any specific training routines or techniques you’ve focused on to enhance your performance? 

Jessica Calderbank: I have just returned from a training camp held over the New Year. It was a great opportunity for me to focus on and develop my training goals and to fully immerse myself in training without any interruptions from the outside.

Loop News: After the World Aquatics Championships, what are your plans for the future, both in and out of the swimming pool?

Jessica Calderbank: This season, I aim to achieve some national records. Specifically, I aspire to break both the 50m and the 100m butterfly national records for Jamaica. I firmly believe this goal is entirely attainable based on the improvement rates I have demonstrated over the past few years. I currently rank as the second fastest female ever in Jamaica for these two events.

In addition to my swimming pursuits, I work as a sports biomechanist for Hawkin Dynamics, a force plate company. Our technology measures ground reaction forces generated by a body standing or moving on them, providing valuable feedback on physical performance. This expertise not only aids others in improving their athletic abilities but also enhances my swimming performance.

Beyond my swimming career, I intend to continue working and advancing in the field of biomechanics.