Henrik Christiansen holds multiple distance national records for his home nation of Norway and in 2016 made his Olympic debut at 19 years old. But swimming on the world’s biggest stage wasn’t always the ultimate dream for Christiansen. From a young age he was involved on another stage, putting on plays and taking part in the theater. There came a time he had a tough decision to make to focus on acting or swimming. He chose the latter, and just a few years later was representing his country.
Christiansen and his coach Ronnie Austensen have build up a strong trust over the years they have worked together. Christiansen says they work in collaboration and challenge each other. He believes at home in Norway is the best place he can reach success, which is why he reportedly turned down scholarships to swim at Stanford and UC Berkeley in 2016.
As a junior swimmer, Christiansen won three medals at the 2014 European Championships. A silver in the 400 meter freestyle in a new national record of 3:49.60 and two bronzes in the 800 and 1,500 meter freestyle. A month later, he picked up another two bronze medals in the 400 and 800 meter freestyle at the Youth Olympic Games.
2015 FINA World Championships
Christiansen gained more international experience in Kazan, Russia. In the 800 meter freestyle he made his first World Championship final, moving up from eighth position to fifth in a new national record of 7:45.66. In the 1,500 and 400 meter freestyle he finished 12th and 13th. He also swam the 400 meter individual medley finishing in 25th and breaking another national record in 4:21.67.
2016 European Championships
In the final test before the Olympics, Christiansen won a silver medal in the 400 meter freestyle, breaking the Norwegian record in 3:46.49.
2016 Rio Olympic Games
At 19-years-old, Christiansen appeared in his first Olympic Games, making the final in the 1,500 meter freestyle. He qualified for the final in eighth place in a new national record of 14:55.40. He wasn’t able to better his time in the final and finished eighth overall.
He also swam the 200 and 400 meter freestyle. In the 200 he finished 40th in 1:50.09 and in the 400 he finished 17th in 3:47.90.
2017 World Championships
Christiansen’s best finish at his second World Championships came in the 800 meter freestyle where he finished 4th in 7:44.21. He had another good swim in the 1,500 meter freestyle touching 5th in 14:54.58, another new national record. In the 400 meter freestyle Christiansen missed out on the final finishing 11th in 3:46.96.
2018 European Championships
In Glasgow, Christiansen earned his 3rd consecutive silver medal in the 400 free, finishing behind Mykhailo Romanchuk in a time of 3:47.07.]
2018 Short Course World Championships
In Hangzhou, Christiansen was the runnerup in the 400 freestyle (3:36.64). He also earned a bronze medal in the 1500 freestyle in a personal best time of 14:19.39.
2019 World Championships
Christiansen continued his medal streak in Gwangju, earning silver in the men’s 800 free, surging at the end of the race to touch for 2nd behind Greg Paltrinieri in a time of 7:41.28.