USA Swimming News

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Trailblazers: Jay Litherland

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Trailblazers: Jay Litherland

Born in Osaka, Japan, Jay Litherland has taken center stage as one of the world’s top 400 IM swimmers.

As a two-time Olympian (2020, 2016) representing the United States, Litherland earned his spot in history with a silver-medal finish at the 2020 Olympic Games, finishing .26 seconds behind American teammate and gold medalist Chase Kalisz. As the first finals swimming event in Tokyo, and pressure of an American finishing with at least a silver medal in the previous eight Olympic Games, the dominating 1-2 finish for Team USA set the stage for U.S. swimmers who brought home 30 medals. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic stands were not filled with the typical loud screams of cheering fans, but Litherland knew his family in the U.S. and Japan were cheering him on.  

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Litherland said right after his swim. “I have relatives in Osaka right now who are cheering me on. It feels great.”  

As a triple citizen of the United States, Japan and New Zealand, Litherland grew up speaking Japanese at home. He is also a triplet with his brothers Kevin and Mick.  

Becoming a United States citizen in high school, Litherland grew up swimming on Dynamo Swim Club and was named an All-American for Chattahoochee High School. Upon graduation, he went on to swim at the University of Georgia, where he still currently trains at under coach Jack Bauerle.  

Accompanying his silver medal in Tokyo, Litherland is a two-time World Championship medalist (1s, 1b), one-time World University Games medalist (1g), a representative on the 2018 Pan Pacific Swimming Championship team and is a seven-time U.S. National Team member.  

To view more, visit Litherland’s U.S. National Team bio.  

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