Autism is often thought of as a boy’s condition. Statistics show that it affects boys four times as often as girls, though some are questioning whether these numbers are correct. In spite of this, there are women and girls living with autism, and many have truly impressive, inspiring stories. For this series, Autism Daily Newscast is sharing profiles of some strong, accomplished women who are living with autism.
Jessica-Jane Applegate is a British Paralympic swimmer who won the gold medal in 2012 at the British Swimming Championship. She is 18 years old. She was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at a young age.
She started swimming as a young girl, and by age 13 she was setting regional records and was selected for a UK sporting talent programme. In 2011 she set the second fastest world Paralympic time in the 50m and the third fastest in the 200m freestyle at the Wales Winter Open. In 2012, she competed at the Berlin Open, taking the bronze in the 50m and 100m freestyle. She took the gold in March 2012 at the British Swimming Championship, finishing four seconds inside the Great Britain Paralympic qualifying time, and setting a new British record.
She won three medals at the 2012 British International Disability Swimming Championships, a silver in the S14 50m and 100, freestyle races, and on the last day, took the gold with a time of 2:15.23, narrowly beating Irish swimmer Bethany Firth. She qualified for the 2012 Summer Paralympics in both the S14 200m freestyle and 100m backstroke.
In the Paralympics, she qualified in third place for the 100m backstroke, and swam a personal best of 1:09.58, finishing in fourth place. In the 200m freestyle, she qualified at first place with 2:14.31, and won the gold at 2:12.63, coming from behind in the final lap and setting a Paralympic record.
In 2013, Applegate swam for Great Britain in the IPC World Championships in Montreal. She took the gold in the 200m freestyle, along with the silver in the 200m medley and the bronze in the 100m freestyle.
She was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year Honors for services to swimming.
She lives in Great Yarmouth with her mum and pets, dogs, Kiahara and Ziggy, who recently passed away, and Goldie the Gecko, who was given to her by the pet shop when she won the gold medal in London. She is an animal lover who has raised many pets, including a rescued baby seal who was eventually released into the wild.
She also enjoys coloring her hair, and doing her make-up and nails. She is currently the only swimmer who swims in full make-up, and she searched for years to find a brand that wouldn’t wash off in the pool. Her hair is currently bright red, but she’s planning on experimenting with pink, peach, and purple.
For more information about Jessica-Jane Applegate, visit her website at www.jessicajaneapplegate.com.