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Jessica Long becomes second-most decorated U.S. Paralympian

Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long explains the impact swimming has had on her life and how the dream of competing in the Paralympics began.

Jessica Long won her 21st career Paralympic medal Tuesday to become the second-most decorated U.S. Paralympian of all time.

Long, 24 years old but already in her fourth Games, captured her fourth medal in Rio, bronze in the 100m backstroke.

Earlier in Rio, she earned silver in the 400m freestyle, bronze in the 100m butterfly and silver in the 100m breaststroke and was fourth in the 100m freestyle.

Only retired swimmer Trischa Zorn has more medals among U.S. Paralympians with 55, most by any Paralympian ever. Long passed other retired Paralympians, track and field athlete Bart Dodson (20 medals) and swimmer Erin Popovich (19 medals), to move into second on the U.S. all-time list.

Long made her Paralympic debut at age 12 at the 2004 Athens Games, where she won her first three golds. She followed up with four golds in Beijing and five in London and trained under Bob Bowman before the coach left Baltimore for Arizona.

Long was born in Siberia with fibular hemimelia, which means she didn’t have fibulas, ankles, heels and most of the other bones in her feet. She was adopted from a Russian orphanage at 13 months old, raised in Baltimore, and at 18 months old her legs were amputated below the knees.

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