My name is Jesse Vassallo I’m a former world record holder in the 200 and the 400 IM a two-time US Olympian (1980-1984) and an Honor member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. .
I’m proud to be the owner of the oldest standing age group record in the USA Swimming record books (13-14 1500-meter freestyle 15:31.03) and for being credited as the originator of the fifth stroke, the underwater dolphin kick.
As a young swimmer during the mid-70 and early 80 training in California with Mark Schubert in Mission Viejo Nadadores we pull every practice, in average of 3,000 meters per practice twice a day.
Pulling was a big part of the workouts and whenever we pulled, we had to keep our ankles together using all kind of gadgets… belts, inner tubes, surgical tubing, all very uncomfortable.
A couple of year ago I set a simple goal… to design a product with the specific purpose of holding the ankles comfortably together while pulling.
I researched and after trying different material, shapes, sizes and thickness I came up with what is now “DBand”
I’m a true believer of the benefit of pulling with DBand, today I want to share this benefit with you by offering you DBand.
He began his swimming career at Club Deportivo de Ponce and became the most successful swimmer ever from the Caribbean Island of Puerto Rico.
Given the name Jesus David, dubbed Cheyenne by his mother, Daisy, but known throughout the world as Jesse, this young swimmer, at an early age, became the hero to many a younger competitor. During his six year international career, Jesse Vassallo set three world records in the individual medley, lasting a combined five years.
Because his father wanted better and faster training for Jesse and Jesse's four brothers, and also to improve upon their English, the family moved from Ponce, Puerto Rico, to Miami, where, at age 11, in 1974, Jesse began swimming with the Hurricane Swim Club.
Soon he won his first national record at age 13 in the 200m backstroke. At that point, his father, a successful businessman and professional basketball player, knew his son had what it took to be a champion. That year became a pivotal year for Jesse and the family as they moved to California to train under the famed Mission Viejo coach, Mark Schubert.
Under Schubert's cautious guidance, Jesse improved enough to compete in his first National Championship meet (1976) and win his first National Championship race (1977) at Kelly Pool in Philadelphia.
In 1978, as a 17 year old "Gold Fish," Jesse got gold fever at the Berlin World Championships, winning both the 200m and the 400m individual medleys and setting a world record in the 400m individual medley, a record he broke once more and held for four years; all while he was still in high school.
In 1979, Vassallo claimed five more US National Championships and prepared for his first swim in his native Puerto Rico since his family had left seven years previously. "I was a little nervous about swimming at the Pan American Games in Puerto Rico, a little unsure how the people would like me having gone to the United States to train. But they were great.
Once I got there, I knew I wanted to swim super fast for the people and for my family," Vassallo said. And super fast he swam, winning the 200m IM in world record time (2:03.29) and the 400m IM, and taking the silver in the 200m backstroke. Friends and relatives, all sporting yellow "Vassallo" t-shirts led the crowd in "Viva Vassallo" cheers.
Jesse Vassallo was the Kig of the IM; world record holder in both the 200m and 400m IM, World Championship gold medalist in the 400m IM, and Pan American Games gold medalist in both the 200m and 400m IM.
Swimming World magazine selected him as World Swimmer of the Year and the European press chose him as one of the world's top ten athletes, among major sports stars as Mohammed Ali, Bjorn Borg and Mario Andretti.
But hardships fell upon Jesse. He was riding high to compete at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. Like many other athletes, his dreams were shattered with the Olympic boycott. His father was struck by a car on the road and never recovered, and during his illustrious career as a student athlete.
At the University of Miami swimming under Coach Bill Diaz, Jesse seriously damaged his left knee ligaments requiring surgery and almost two years of recovery, keeping him out of the 1982 Guayaquil World Championships. "You don't know what you've got until you don't have it anymore. Now I want it back," said Jesse.
Propelled by his passion for sports he inherited from his father, and the relentless spirit of a true champion, his comeback in 1984 included another national title in the 200m backstroke and another spot on the US Olympic Team where he managed a fourth place in the 400m IM race at Los Angeles.
The recovery time before the Olympics was not quite long enough to fully heal and prepare for international competition. After 14 years, following the 1984 Games, he announced his retirement from competitive swimming.
Since then, he has conducted swimming clinics in the US, Puerto Rico and Central and South America and currently coaches the swim team In Pompano Beach Florida.
Jesse lives with his wife Bethsabee and has three children Jess, Victor and Alejandro.
1997 ISHOF HONOR SWIMMER
1980 - 1984 US OLYMPIC TEAM
WORLD RECORDS 200m IM / 400m IM
1978 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (200m backstroke, 400m IM): silver (200m IM)
1979 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: gold (200m IM, 400m IM), silver (200m backstroke)
US NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP TITLES (17): 7 short course (200yd backstroke, 200yd, 400yd IM, 400yd medley relay), 10 long course (200m backstroke, 200m 400m IM);
NCAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE: (400yd IM);
1978 WORLD SWIMMER OF THE YEAR.
Jesse Vassallo shows of the beginning of the underwater at the 1980 Olympic Team Training Camp
Interview with Jesse Vassallo
Men 200 IM Finals
Vassallo gets the crowd to sing Puerto Ricos National Anthem