Posted on Monday 9th December, 2019

Kiwi Para swimmer Jesse Reynolds wants to be the best he can be in the pool.

Then, he wants to be the best in the world.

Reynolds has his sights set on representing New Zealand at next year’s Paralympic Games along with a bold goal he knows will take blood, sweat and tears.

“I want to win in Tokyo,” he said.

“I do it all because I want to win … I don’t think I could push as hard as I do every day if that wasn’t my end goal.”

Thanks to the support from the ANZ Olympic Pathways programme, Reynolds is on track to make his dream a reality.

A financial boost and additional support will mean Reynolds can focus less on trying to stay afloat living in Auckland and more on that gold medal.

“For me, the training is probably the easiest part of being an athlete but the hard stuff comes outside of the pool,” Reynolds said.

“Making sure that you’re eating properly every single day, getting enough sleep, getting enough recovery … you’ve got to fit a lot in to really get the final two, three per cent to try and become the best version of yourself.

“The biggest thing for me really is the financial help. Every hour that I’ve got that I’m not directly training, I can use that to recover and get ready for the next session.

“You can put everything that you’ve got into going faster.”

Growing up, Reynolds became increasingly frustrated by the limitations his limb deficiency presented on the sporting scene.

“I was always really competitive as a kid and I’ve always had one leg,” Reynolds said.

“Pretty much everything sport and competition-wise involves running and so I’d always get smashed at everything because I couldn’t run as fast.

“I was always average to the bottom.”

Everything changed at age 11 though, when Reynolds discovered that his two-legged friends’ advantages dwindled in the pool.

“I realised once we were sprinting and swimming in the water, there was really nothing separating me from me and my friends,” he said.

“A really awesome feeling for me was realising ‘people aren’t letting me win at this, people aren’t holding back or feeling sorry for me, I’m just actually better than them’.”

Two years later, Reynolds made his international debut grabbing a bronze medal in the 400-metre freestyle S9 at the Melbourne 2009 Paralympic Youth Games.

He made his senior debut for New Zealand at the 2013 Swimming World Championships, before competing in his first Paralympic Games in Rio.

“Basically the rest is history.”

Reynolds won’t know until early next year whether or not he’ll be swimming for New Zealand in Tokyo.

He’ll first need to achieve a set time at trials and hope his 2019 world ranking secures him one of the spots available in the team.

Reynolds, however, believes the additional support now offered by ANZ will prove invaluable on his journey to Japan.

“All those outside workshops are going to be really beneficial for me, especially are far as looking after what money I do have coming in,” he said.

“I think the programme that they’re doing here is really incredible and it will help me specifically, and all the other athletes a tremendous amount.”

Story written by nzherald.co.nz.