Born: April 30, 1991
Town: Fair Haven
Connor Jaeger was born April 30, 1991 in Hackensack. He and his older sister Dana began competitive swimming in the late 1990s, when his family spent summers at the Jersey Shore. The Jaegers moved to Fair Haven in 2003, and Connor began making a name for himself at the Central Jersey Aquatic Club in Oakhurst. He was named to state all-star squads and competed in the Junior Olympics.
Connor attended Rumson-Fair Haven High School and made all-state in the 200 meters as a senior in 2010. He set several conference records for RHF and earned a scholarship to the University of Michigan, where he decided to study engineering. As a college freshman in 2011, Connor was a member of the NCAA-champions 4 x 200 relay team and was first-team All Big 10.
Connor began to specialize in the longer distances and in 2012, he was Big 10 champ in 500-yard and 1,650-yard freestyle. At the Olympic trials that spring, he finished second in the 1,500-meter freestyle to earn a trip to London. It was just the fifth time he had competed at the distance, and he came within an eyelash of beating Andrew Gemmell for first place. In London, the best he could do was a sixth-place finish in the finals.
Connor improved his performance against international competition in the months that followed. He won bronze in the 400 meters at the 2013 World Championships and again at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships. He was the fastest American that year in both the 400 and 1,500 freestyle, and also the NCAA champion in the 500 and 1,650. Connor took the gold medal in the 1,500 meters at the 2014 Pan Pacs. He set an American record in the 1,650-yard freestyle at the 2014 AT&T Winter Nationals and also won the 500 meters. That year he was also the NCAA champion in the 1,650.At the 2015 World Championships, Conor set a new personal best in the 1500 with a time of 14:41.2.
Connor was peaking as the 2016 Olympics began. He qualified for the 400 meter freestyle—one of the first events of the Summer Games—along with American Conor Dwyer, but finished 5th in a field of 8. Then he had to wait the better part of a week to get back in the pool for his next final. Connor made the medal field for the 1500 meters and finished second to Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri to secure a silver medal.
Connor’s time was a personal best, fifth-best all-time, and the best time ever for a North American swimmer in the 1500. It was also the first distance medal won by an American sine 2004, when Larsen Jensen also won silver. It established Connor as the country’s leading distance swimmer and among the very best ever on the world stage.
It Happened in Jersey