Freestyle specialist Chelsea Chenault was born on October 19, 1994 in Walnut Creek, California to parents Carl and Catherine. She started swimming at the age of six. She holds several all-time top times for her age group team, the Terrapins Swim Team. Those top times include events such as the 11-12 200 meter free (2:09.94), 13-14 100 yard free (50.87) and 500 yard free (4:45.72), as well as the 15-16 200 yard free (1:44.98) and 1000 yard free (9:45.79).
Faces in the Crowd
As a 13-year-old Sports Illustrated for Kids took notice of the upcoming swimming powerhouse when they named Chenault to their Faces in the Crowd section. Just before her naming, she had a dominant performance at the Pacific Swimming Junior Olympics.
High school swimming
Chenault attended Carondelet High School where she was a five-time California North Coast Section record holder. In 2013, Chenault’s senior year, the standout swimmer was named Cal-Hi Sports Girls Athlete of the Year and San Jose Easy Bay Girls Swimmer of the Year. At that year’s CIF North Coast Section Championships Chenault won the 200 yard free in 1:44.98 and the 500 yard free in 4:39.11. She was a three-time CIF North Coast champion in the 100 free, 200 free, and 500 free. Chenault holds CIF North Coast Swimming records in the 200 yard free (1:44.45), 100 yard free (49.27), 500 yard free (4:38.05), and as part of Carondelet’s 200 yard medley and 400 yard freestyle relays. Chenault was part of two High School National Record holding teams at Carondelet–the 200 yard medley relay (1:40.73) and the 400 yard free relay (3:20.42).
Beginning of her career
The freestyler had an exceptional 2010 Junior National Championships; she won the 200 meter free (2:01.20), was second in the 400 meter free (4:14.22), and was fifth in the 100 meter free (56.74). Later that summer the 16-year-old was selected for the United States’ 2010 Junior Pan Pacific Championships team. At those championships in Maui, Hawaii she won the 200 meter free (1:58.52), 400 meter free (4:10.79), and was part of the United States’ winning 200 meter and 400 meter free relays.
Chenault built upon her international experience at the 2011 FINA World Junior Championships in Lima, Peru. She won a silver medal in the 200 meter free (1:59.69) and was fifth in the 400 meter free (4:12.90).
At the 2012 Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Honolulu, Hawaii Chenault won the 200 meter free (1:58.33) and was second in the 400 meter free (4:09.24). Chenault became a world champion as part of the 800 meter freestyle relay at the 2012 FINA Short Course World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.
As a 13-year-old Chenault competed at the 2008 US Olympic Trials where she swam the 100, 200, 400, and 800 meter freestyle. Her highest finish was 16th place in the 200 free.
By 2012 Chenault had become a star on the United States swimming scene. She was 8th in the 200 meter free (1:58.61) and 16th in the 400 meter free (4:12.11) at the 2012 US Olympic Trials — she was just two roster spots out of making the 2012 Olympic Team as a member of the 800 free relay.
Out of high school Chenault chose to attend the University of Southern California, moving south of her bay area residence. As a freshman at USC Chenault was a two-time All-American, and scored individually in her first NCAA Championships. She helped USC finished fourth in the 800 free relay and sixth in the 400 free relay. Individually she finished 10th in the 200 free and 16th in the 500 free.
As a sophomore Chenault expressed that college swimming was going great at the beginning of the season. At the NCAA Championships, Chenault finished 10th in the 500 free, sixth in the 200 free and ninth in the 200 fly, successfully earning her first individual All-American honor. She also finished sixth in the 800 free relay as USC’s anchor swim.
National and international competition
In 2013 Chenault expanded on her international experience by being named to both the United States’ World University Games and World Championships rosters. At the 2013 US World Championship Trials Chenault was 6th in the 200 meter free (1:58.74) thus earning her spot on those two world championship teams. (She was also 5th in the 400 meter free [4:10.79].) The 2013 World University Games in Kazan, Russia saw Chenault becoming a world champion again as part of the United States’ 800 meter free relay. Her split of 1:57.88 was the event’s fastest.
Chenault showcased her relay prowess again at the 15th FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain as part of the United States’ 800 meter free relay. She swam the second leg of the relay during the prelims, splitting 1:58.95, and earning herself a gold medal in the process as the American team went on to win the event by beating the Australians.
She earned a spot on the World University Games team in South Korea in 2015, and also made the roster for the 2015 World Championshiops in Kazan as a part
Originally developed by Christina Wright.