Appeal launched as funding cut leaves Paralympic swimmer Jessica-Jane Applegate facing retirement

Jessica-Jane Applegate. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Jessica-Jane Applegate. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Norfolk swimming star Jessica-Jane Applegate has launched a crowd-funding appeal to try and save her competitive career after seeing her funding dramatically cut.

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The UEA City of Norwich Swimming Club member won three medals at the Rio Paralympics in September, winning two silver and one bronze, but did not meet the criteria to remain on the British Para-Swimming Podium programme.

Instead the 20-year-old has been moved down to the Podium Potential programme, resulting in a funding cut of around £10,000.

'If we can't make the money up then she's going to have to retire in January,' the London 2012 gold medallist's mum, Dawn Applegate, said.

'We are trying to keep the stress away from her, this was the start of her competition season so these last three weekends she's been away from home.


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'It's mine and Alex's (Pinniger, coach) job to worry about the funding and she needs to focus on her training or being in the gym or whatever it is she needs.'

The Burgh Castle-based swimmer has Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, and competes in classes for swimmers with intellectual impairments.

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She didn't let the bad news affect her this weekend, setting two British records for her classification, at a City of Leicester SC open meeting.

Applegate set the national records in the 400m freestyle and 50m freestyle, with her time of 26.92 seconds for the latter distance also breaking the Norfolk able-bodied record.

The success continued the former Ormiston Venture Academy pupil's progress, after having to have surgery on a prolapsed disc in her back following her efforts in Rio.

Combined with having to have throat surgery nine weeks before the Paralympics, where she needed to set a personal best (PB) to remain on the Podium programme, it hasn't been the easiest of year's for Applegate.

'She would have set a PB in Rio but with the circumstances before it meant she couldn't taper off for the event, so it's incredible how she did,' Mrs Applegate continued.

'Now she's recovering from surgery on her prolapsed disc and it's kind of a natural process because it takes times to recover and she is now starting to improve.'

It may seem a harsh decision from British Swimming but Mrs Applegate realises funding decisions are difficult for the governing body to make, adding: 'The thing is with their criteria, it's very black and white, there are no grey areas.

'They can't do it for other athletes so they can't do it for Jessica, so that's just how it is.'

The funding appeal has now been set up with assistance from the Community Sports Foundation, following hot on the heels of Applegate winning Female Sportsperson of the Year at the Norfolk Sports Awards in Norwich last week.

'Jess is a Community Sports Foundation ambassador and they have set up a crowd-funding page for her, as we've not had the time to do that, so CSF have kindly done that to take the pressure off us,' Mrs Appelgate concluded.

'We need £15,000 for the next year for basic training and competition. If we can get over that it would be fantastic as that will allow for more warm-weather camps and access to physio a couple of times a week.'

You can support Applegate's cause at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/JessicaJaneApplegateMBE.

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