Jake Maier | March 5, 2017
Jamaica is a sprint country.
The list of short-distance athletes that call Jamaica their home is impressive. Among them are Usain Bolt, the reigning “fastest man on earth;” Asafa Powell, a one time world record holder; and two-time olympic gold medalist, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
This past December, Notre Dame’s Justin Plaschka added his name to this list of elite Jamaican sprinters. Plaschka, however, does not flash his speed on the track, but rather in the pool. At the FINA World Swimming Championships (Short Course), held in Windsor, Ontario, Plaschka set three Jamaican national records in the 100 butterfly, 50 butterfly and 50 backstroke, making him one of the fastest Jamaicans in water.
This was not the first record-setting performance for Plaschka, who holds the top marks in the 50 freestyle, 100 butterfly and both the 200 and 400 freestyle relays at Notre Dame, but it was by far the most meaningful.
“It is an honor to be able to say I did this for my country.” Plaschka remarks. “I am so happy that I have been able to get where I am and I want to continue to get better. Seeing my name up there with some of the greatest Jamaican athletes pushes me to work harder. I want to make an even bigger impact.”
Plaschka was born in the United States, but he is only a first generation American. His father is from Germany and his mother was born in Jamaica. While he was in high school, Plaschka decided to take advantage of his familial roots and obtain dual citizenship. United States laws only allow for its residents to have citizenship in one other country, however, so Plaschka had to choose. The decision was a no-brainer.