At 32, Jeanette Ottesen, from Denmark, has quite a busy life. Two years after the birth of her daughter, she is determined to compete in her fifth Olympic Games, this summer in Tokyo (JPN). In the meantime, she starts 2020 by taking part in the FINA Champions Swim Series, for which she was invited to take part in the 50m and 100m fly. And she looks forward to swimming from this Tuesday in Shenzhen (CHN), and then again during the weekend in Beijing (CHN). “I wasn’t invited in 2019, but I am very happy to be here in 2020”, she confesses, a day before her first performances in the pool.

Her FINA trajectory started exactly 17 years ago, when in January 2003 she competed at the Stockholm leg of the FINA Swimming World Cup, already getting a seventh place in the 50m fly. A year and a half later, at only 16, she travels to Athens for her first Olympics – a discreet start, with her strongest individual result being a 18th place in the 100m free. From those years on, Ottesen consolidated a solid career, with several important milestones in major international events.

Photo by gettyimages

In Rio 2016, at her fourth Olympic celebration, she finally gets a bronze medal, in the 4x100m medley relay. It was a fair tribute to a career that had already seen her climbing to the podium of the FINA World Championships on four occasions – gold in the 100m free in 2011, gold in the 50m fly in 2013, and then silver in the same event in 2015. Also in Kazan, she was runner-up in the 100m fly. At the last edition of the FINA showcase, in Gwangju (KOR), the Danish was seventh in the 50m fly. Meanwhile, in short course action, Ottesen had also proven a solid athlete, with no less than 12 medals at the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m), including four gold – 50m fly in 2016, 4x50m medley and 4x100m medley in 2014, and 4x100m medley in 2012. 

After the Brazilian Olympic rendezvous, the Danish star thought on a possible retirement, but soon after the birth of her child she resumed training and is once more in great shape to shine in the pool. 

“In 2019, everybody said it was a great event! They all had a lot of fun and considered the competition quite interesting… So, I wanted also to come, to try it. Only four swimmers in a final, a format that not only fits the swimmers but is also quite good for the spectators. I was a bit disappointed for not being invited, but this year I am here”, confesses a very enthusiastic Jeanette Ottesen, some moments after the Opening Conference of the competition, today in Shenzhen. 

Reflecting on her preparation in the Olympic year, the Danish champion is clear: “It’s going very well, I feel great and everything is going according with the plan. I am working hard, I sometimes get tired, as I have also my daughter to care. But all my entourage is doing this like a family affair, so I feel really supported by the ones around me”, she says. 

Asked about her expectations for the Japanese rendezvous, Ottesen recalls that she needs still to get qualified for the Games: “This process will happen for me in the end of March/beginning of April. Hopefully, everything will go smoothly and I’ll accomplish the goal to participate in my fifth Olympics! And now, as a mother, which would have a very special meaning for me…” she admits. For that, she will be primarily focused on getting the right time in the 100m fly, but she will also try to get selected in the 50m and 100m free.

In the FINA Champions Swim Series, she will be the only Danish representative, and will certainly have strong opposition in the two events she will compete in. In the shorter distance, she will face Ranomi Kromowidjojo, from the Netherlands, 2019 silver medallist at the Worlds, while in the 100m, versatile Katinka Hosszu (HUN) and Elena di Liddo (ITA, fourth in Gwangju) will certainly be strong contenders.