Div­ing in

Girlfriend - - FEATURES -

Jenna Jones has been slowly los­ing her sight since she was five years old. It’s been caused by a reti­nal dis­ease called cone-rod dys­tro­phy. Now 16, Jenna has proved that it won’t stop her – she com­peted in swim­ming at the 2016 Rio Par­a­lympics and she’s now get­ting ready to take part in the next games, in Tokyo in 2020!

When did you no­tice your sight was de­te­ri­o­rat­ing?

I re­mem­ber in preschool when ev­ery­one would sit down and watch TV, I’d al­ways think it was bor­ing be­cause I’d be like, “Why would any­one want to watch this? You can’t even see what’s hap­pen­ing on there.”

You’re the only one in your fam­ily with the con­di­tion. How do you cope with that?

Last year, the Chil­dren’s Med­i­cal Re­search In­sti­tute dis­cov­ered that my con­di­tion was caused by ge­netic mu­ta­tion. I was re­ally ex­cited be­cause I have five sib­lings, so I was al­ways like, “Why am I the only one with this prob­lem?” It is like hav­ing an ex­tra piece of the puz­zle. Now I know this is just the card

I’ve been dealt. It’s helped me to un­der­stand more about my­self.

What’s your favourite mem­ory from Rio?

Hon­estly, just the over­all ex­pe­ri­ence – the teams, the at­mos­phere and the grand­stands, meet­ing new peo­ple, meet­ing peo­ple that I’d only seen on world rank­ings, rac­ing against them, mak­ing fi­nals – just ev­ery­thing.

But you had a set­back when you re­turned home from Rio…

While I was in Rio, I started to get a sore knee. When I got back home it started to get re­ally painful and I couldn’t even kick, so I went for an ul­tra­sound and they found a be­nign tu­mour that had gone through to the mus­cles. I had to have surgery and it set me back a bit, but now I’m back in the pool.

What does your daily rou­tine look like?

I usu­ally get up at 3.50am and I’m in the wa­ter train­ing by 5am. I’ll fin­ish around 7am and then I go to TAFE from 9.30am to 3pm, as I’m study­ing mas­sage ther­apy. Then I go back to train­ing from 4pm to 6.30pm.

What does the fu­ture hold?

I re­ally want to keep swim­ming for as long as pos­si­ble be­cause I love it! I also want to do sports mas­sage and work with ath­letes.

Visit jeans­for­genes.org.au to help more peo­ple like Jenna!

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