Being an elite endurance athlete while serving as an officer in the United States Coast Guard is a tall order, but when Lt. Jessica Lukasik graduated high school in Georgia as the valedictorian, she sought something purposeful and adventurous for her future…something unexpected.
It was the mission of the Coast Guard that inspired her to enlist. After the Academy, Jessica was awarded a Fulbright scholarship. During her first tour in Africa, she earned her Master’s Degree, all while working on a marine conservation research project for the Coast Guard protecting local ecosystems.
Jessica’s interest in triathlons began in high school and grew in the Coast Guard. After the move to Africa, it became considerably more difficult to find competitions. “I not only [had] to figure out my own training, my own race season, [and] find other people to train with, but then I was on a tiny little island where this was not a huge thing.” Seeking more competition and comradery led Jessica to USMES (United States Military Endurance Sports), a non-profit that promotes endurance sports within the US military community. “It is this other community of people engaging in a sport that I’m passionate about, [and] part of a career that I’m passionate about.”
Jessica is back in the States. Now serving her second tour. She’s unable to commit to a strict training program due to an erratic work schedule, but it doesn’t stop her from competing in triathlons, IRONMANs, and marathons. “I’ve learned to make that degree of flexibility in my schedule work for me, because my career is going to come first.” Her passion for competition earned her the 2017 Kona IRONMAN Military Division World Champion title and first place in her age category at the 2017 Rock ’n’ Roll Seattle Marathon. True to her initial goal, she continues to seek out experiences both on and off the beaten path.
“I just want what I do to matter…to my country, to the world, and to me.”
To some, it may seem like everything in Lt. Jessica Lukasik’s life has been pre-destined, but she feels differently. “I wish I could say I was one of those people who knew what I was going to be doing 20 years from now, but my trajectory so far has already proven to me that I have no idea. I just want what I do to matter…to my country, to the world, and to me.”