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Harriet Jones: The Cardiff water baby ready to make a splash

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Harriet Jones will be competing in the opening weekend at the Tokyo Olympics but the Welsh 100m butterfly star began her journey in Cardiff when thrown in at the deep end – though, not literally – by her mum.

“My mum made me go swimming to just get a life skill, basically,” says the 24-year-old, who is part of a super six half dozen swimmers from Swim Wales who made the Great Britain squad.

“I used to jump into the pool when I was younger with no armbands on. She used to hate me for that.”

It was in Cardiff – at Cardiff Swimming Club - where Harriet moved from novice to eye-catching young talent but she fell in love with the sport whilst learning to swim, just like thousands of other young people every year.

Harriet Jones in a race at Gold Coast 2018


From taking the plunge as a child in order to just keep safe in the water, 20 years on and she is aiming to impress at her first Olympic Games.

The super six – Harriet, Alys Thomas, Dan Jervis, Kieran Bird, Matt Richards and Calum Jarvis – represent something of a golden age for Welsh swimming as they make up almost 25 per cent of Team GB’s swimming squad.

Jones, who joined the Cardiff squad aged 11, admits what was once a life skill has become a way of life and says she often prefers to be in the water than on land.

“I like the feel of being in the water and think of myself as being a water baby,” she says.

“When I’m on holiday I always want to be in the sea or in a pool. I would rather be in the water than on land, It’s just so nice.

“It’s like being in a world of your own. You don’t have to listen to anyone else, it’s something that you can enjoy all on your own”

The soon-to-be Olympian was involved in lots of sports when she was younger but swimming was the one she settled on.

“I progressed through all the squads where hard work and determination has got me to where I am now.

“I made the decision at around the age of 15 to completely focus on swimming as that was what I enjoyed the most and was probably best at.”

It paid off this spring when the City of Cardiff club swimmer produced a stellar performance in the GB Olympic trial and won the 100m butterfly event in 57.79 seconds to qualify for the Games. 

The heats for the event begin in Tokyo on Saturday morning.

“My first reaction was shock,” she says of her qualification swim in London.

“I couldn’t really see the scoreboard, but everyone was putting their thumbs up to me.I was like, ‘what’s going on here?’ Then, when I had it confirmed, it was just pure happiness.”

Harriet says she has also been inspired by many role models - both from within Wales and around the world and now wants a piece of the Olympian name tag which all her idols possess.

“I want the name ‘Harriet Jones, the Olympian’. It’s like a once in a lifetime thing to achieve. That’s the dream.

“Michael Phelps has always been one of my heroes, I don’t think you could go wrong with him.

“Then, my Welsh role models were Jemma Lowe, as she was a butterfly swimmer like me, and obviously the likes of Jazz Carlin, David Davies and Ieuan Lloyd. I was inspired by all of them.”

Jones was keen to stress the positive impact Swim Wales have had on her career and has some worthwhile advice for any youngster aiming to follow in her slipstream.

“I think Swim Wales are one of the best governing bodies in swimming,” she says.

“They always put us first and make sure that we are happy.

“My biggest piece advice for any swimmer is you should always have fun along the way. As long you are enjoying it, you’ll always be able to give your best.”