Battle-hardened Greenwood goes for gold in Birmingham

The water has rarely been calm for Jasmine Greenwood, but the swimmer’s resilience is the stuff of legend. Glenn Cullen reports.

Image: Swimming star: Jasmine Greenwood. Photo: Delly Carr.

With a Paralympics and world championship under her belt, Jasmine Greenwood can already make claim to an enviable swimming career.

The fact she is just 17, completing her Year 12 studies and is about to compete for Australia at her second Commonwealth Games – makes it an extraordinary one.

The Shoalhaven High School student is currently finalising her preparations for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games where she will compete in the SM10 200m individual medley.

Jasmine is looking to add to the three medals she secured at this year’s World Para Championships in Portugal and the silver she obtained in Tokyo at last year’s rescheduled Paralympics.

It has been the most demanding of journeys.

“I'll admit doing fulltime Year 12, aiming for an ATAR and swimming for Australia as well as being a student with a disability has made this year the hardest time of my entire life - and I've experienced plenty of lows,” she said.

“But it's with thanks to my school, community and family/partner that I have gotten through to this point and done quite well.”

Similarly, in 2021 it was another hectic year where she took three months off school to finetune her Paralympic preparations.

And then before the 2018 Commonwealth Games she was involved in a scooter accident which looked set to rule her out of the trials, only return to the pool and qualify for the Gold Coast at just 13 years of age – the youngest member of the 496-member squad.

It’s a pattern of steely will and immense skill at her sport set against the backdrop of a great support network that’s become a common feature of her life.

After acquiring a brain injury as a result of two strokes caused by acute appendicitis and septic shock as a six-year-old, she ultimately got back into sports, eventually finding a passion for swimming.

But even that’s not the full story, says Damian Rees, Executive Principal - Connected Communities Shoalhaven High School.

“She has been through a lot since 2019 after suffering effects from the summer bushfires, followed by floods in 2020 and COVID through 2020 and 2021,” Mr Rees said.

“Throughout this time Jasmine quietly continued to pursue her Olympic dreams and at times sacrificed a lot to ensure these dreams were made a reality.

“We as a school community are humbled to have been able to share a small part of her journey over the last six years”.

While acknowledging her battles, Jasmine also paid tribute to those that have helped her in the public school system along the way.

“I've had many incredible teachers, both from my classrooms and the disability support unit, who have taken on my situation of missing school to swim overseas, whilst doing ATAR subjects, and provided me with the best alternatives possible.

“I'd like to give a shout out to Mrs (Julie) Ashby, who retired recently but has supported me still even from afar, all of my classroom teachers, my principal, deputy and year advisor, and also past teacher/Swimming NSW’s John Williams.”

After completing her HSC, Jasmine says a fresh chapter of her life awaits.

A gap year, more swimming and university studies are on her agenda.

But first there’s the Commonwealth Games – where she’ll go for gold starting with her heat on August 2 (GMT).

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