Jillian Schwartz was born in Evanston, Illinois, September 19, 1979. Schwartz is a college all-American and the second-highest finisher at Olympic trials. The Athens Games is the first Olympics for Schwartz, who was not permitted to pole vault in high school because Illinois did not have pole-vaulting for girls until 1997. She moved to Arkansas to train, but her family still lives near Chicago. Schwartz failed to make the U.S. Olympic Team in 2000.
Schwartz graduated from Duke in 2001 with a degree in economics, and while enrolled in the school set the outdoor pole vault record of 14-2 as well as the indoor record of 13-5 1/4. Schwartz also excelled in high jump and hurdles at Duke.
At the 2004 Nationals, Schwartz became only the fifth American woman ever to clear 15 feet.