Jesse initially a member of the Greytown Swimming Club ( 1 year) moved to Carterton Swim Club (8 years) to swim competitively. His family later moved to Masterton so Jesse transferred clubs in order to keep training for triathlons.
Jesse Bucknell first represented the Wairarapa at a national meet as a junior during the 1997-98 season. He was to continue representing the Wairarapa region for seven consecutive seasons ending his competitive swimming in 2005.
Jesse was an integral part of the swim squad throughout his time with Carterton Swimming Club and always gave his best. Jesse made it through to national level for swimming and has a multitude of medals, awards and broken records to his name. He later took his love for the water into open water swimming and triathlons. His talent knew no bounds.
As a pre-teen, he was a competitive swimmer and runner, and at 13 he began competing in triathlons. He became a leading regional triathlete, cyclist and multi-sport athlete and was selected for the Triathlon New Zealand Academy in 2004, 2005 and 2006, From there he earned a place in the NZ team competing against Australia in the Trans Tasman Challenge in all three of those years. In 2006 he was named in the Triathlon NZ Youth Development Squad and from there he was selected in the NZ Triathlon team to compete in the ITU World Championships in Switzerland where he finished 17th in his grade.
A teammate describes Jesse in the pool as 'a freak of nature'. He didn't have an ounce of fat on him or it would seem - an off switch. He never seemed to tire, no matter how fast he had just raced. He was simply incredibly fit and quickly earned the nickname "The Machine". Coach Russell Geange says he remembers Jesse had a great pair of legs on him and a wicked kick and was "a bloody good swimmer". Russell also remembers, as do a number of members of our former swimming squad that Jesse was bloody cheeky and knew how to push Russell's buttons. As another swimmer described it "Jesse had this ability to mess with Mr Geange and get under his skin. It was always done with a cheeky grin on his face; he knew exactly what he was doing".
When former squad members were asked to recall their memories of Jesse their response was immediate. Every one of them remembered Jesse as a cheeky, fun loving team mate who simply had a natural ability in the pool and was just a downright good guy. But a lot of their memories were about Jesse outside of the pool - the social side. Jesse was hugely social and loved swimming and exercising. The swimming crew were a family and weekends away together for swim meets were a regular thing and something we always looked forward to. Jesse could often be found sitting smack bang in the middle of all the swimming girls, joining in on the gossip sessions. He was our cheeky little brother and he loved it.
Another squad member remembers that Jesse’s enthusiasm for pretty much everything in life and tenacity for training hard and punching well above his weight (literally) was infectious as well as being a great training partner and friend.