Palisades’ Jordan Wilimovsky Swims 1500 at Rio Olympics

By Sue Pascoe

Jordan Wilimovsky, who began his swimming career at the old YMCA pool in Temescal Canyon, made his Olympic Games debut in Brazil on Aug. 13. He finished fourth in the 1500-meter race with a time of 14:45.03.

Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri, the top qualifier going into the finals, captured the gold with a time of 14:37.57. Wilimovsky’s teammate, Connor Jaeger, took silver while setting a U.S. record: 14:39.48. Bronze went to another Italian, Gabriele Detti (14:40.86).

Jordan Wilimovsky just missed winning a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics but his time was the second fastest in U.S. men’s history. Photo: Mike Lewis
Jordan Wilimovsky just missed winning a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics but his time was the second fastest in U.S. men’s history. Photo: Mike Lewis

During the race, Wilimovsky moved up to second after 650 meters and eventually was passed by Jaeger, but it looked like the Palisadian would hold onto third. Unfortunately, Detti, who had earlier earned a bronze in the 400 freestyle, caught him with less than 200 meters to go.

Wilimovsky’s time was the second fastest in U.S. men’s history in this event. Australia’s Mack Horton, a gold medalist in the 400, finished fifth and Canadian Ryan Cochrane, silver medalist in 2012 and third in 2008, came in sixth.

Wilimovsky, who qualified for the Olympics with a time of 14.49.19, won his semifinal heat on Friday (14:48.23), swimming against Horton, who previously had the world’s fastest time this year (14:39.54) and China’s Sun Yang, who set the record in the event (14:31.02) at the 2012 London Olympics.

Wilimovsky is also the first American to qualify in both open water and pool events at the Olympics. On Tuesday at 7 a.m. this week, he was scheduled to swim the open water 10K off Fort Copacabana at the south end of the beach that defines the Copaca- bana district.

The 22-year-old qualified for the Olympic 10K in the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia, by taking first (1:49:48.2). He was only the second American to ever win the 10K world title.

In an earlier interview with the News, Wilimovsky said: “Racing internationally for the United States is always an honor and a great learning experience. It gives you an opportunity to race some of the best in the world.”

A collegiate swimmer after graduating from Malibu High, Wilimovsky took his senior year off from Northwestern University to train for the Olympics.

“Lots of people do some kind of water-related sport such as surfing, Junior Guards, or swimming which maybe influenced me a little bit,” Wilimovsky told the News. “I started swimming when I was nine because I couldn’t meet the Junior Lifeguards standard. I joined a club team that summer (the Paly YMCA Swim Team) and stuck with it. There was no special moment, but over time as I got better, making the Olympics seemed like a little bit more of a possibility.”

As for advice for others who want to be successful swimmers, “Stick with it and go to practice every day,” Wilimovsky said. “Just keep trying to improve little by little every day and you will get better.”

He lives with his parents, Rolf and Wendy, and younger brother Alec in the Sunset Mesa neighborhood.

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