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British Olympic swimmer Jo Jackson: The facts

By Jenny Scott
Boots Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

If you've just started teaching your little one how to swim, give yourself a big pat on the back.

For not only is swimming an important and potentially life-saving skill with fitness benefits thrown in for good measure - if your child shows any aptitude, it could even be the start of an exciting career.

For British Olympic swimmer Jo Jackson, 24, started out on the swimming club route. The six foot freestyle Olympic medallist came 7th in the 3rd heat of the London 2012 women's 400m freestyle. We spoke to her in the build-up to the Games.

jo jackson

British Olympic swimmer Jo Jackson's background

"I learned to swim when I was four or five," says Jo, from Richmond, North Yorkshire. "It was just one of those things your parents want you to do so you can stay safe in the water. I did it once a week. Then, when I was nine or ten, I joined the local club."

As Jo got more and more involved in her swimming, she started swimming in local - then national - competitions. She got a lot of support from her parents, Barry and Gillian.

"My parents drove me everywhere," she says. "If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have been able to keep going with swimming. They had to take a lot of time off work to take me to places."

Neither of Jo's parents were swimmers themselves but they are interested in fitness. Her dad is a keen cyclist and her mum goes running.

Jo continued swimming into her teenage years. As she became better and better, she decided she wanted to make a career in swimming.

"When I was 14 or 15, I decided swimming was what I wanted to do so I started taking it more seriously," she says.

Jo was inspired by her older sister Nicola, also an Olympic swimmer.

"I got into swimming because of her. I wanted to do what she was doing," she says. "She went to the 2000 Olympics and got a silver medal at the World Championships in 2001. I wanted to be as good as she was. It's ok that I am now, because she's stopped swimming!"

Jo Jackson British swimmer: 2004 Olympics

At the age of just 18, in 2004 Jo went to her first Olympics.

"It was a bit out of nowhere," she says. "I wasn't that good as a junior. I just seemed to make a breakthrough and made the senior team in 2003 at the World Championships. It was good to do that at a young age. By the time the 2008 Beijing Olympics came around I felt quite experienced."

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