Kelsi Worrell holds a unique honour in the world of swimming: she is first woman to finish the 100-butterfly with a time under 50 seconds. Her strength and speed in the pool has earned her several NCAA All-American awards and a National Championship. The butterfly sprinter and freestyler was raised in Westampton, New Jersey, attended the University of Louisville, and swam in the Rio Olympics in the summer of 2016.
High School Highlights
As a high school student in New Jersey, Worrell won a handful of awards and earned serious recognition. During each of her four years in high school, she was named the Burlington County Swimmer of the Year. She won the state champion in the 100-yard fly three times and she was named an All-American in several strokes with the exception of the breaststroke. Prior to entering college, she did quality for the Olympic Trials in her best event, the 100-meter butterfly. She graduated from high school in 2011.
Her years in college were just as noteworthy, from the moment she entered school. She dominated in the Big East Conference, qualifying for the NCAA Championships. The same success followed her through the rest of her collegiate swimming career. She set a school record in 200-yard fly during her sophomore year. During her junior year, she swam in several events, including the 50-yard free and the 200-yard free relay. She also swam the 200-yard medley in the butterfly leg. She also swam the 100-yard fly in 49.81 – the fast that any woman had ever finished that race in the US record books. Her senior year of swimming was also successfully. She broke another time, but in the 200-yard butterfly. She swam 1:50:61 in the prelims in the NCAA Championship. She also bested her own 100-yard fly with a time of 49.43.
Competitions in 2015
In 2015, Worrell proved herself a competitor in more than just the butterfly. She swam in the 100-meter backstroke. Her time in that race was the 9th fastest in the US in 2015 and she was the 14th fastest American backstroke swimmer ever. Her performance in that race and in the others she swam earned her a nomination as the USA Swimming Breakout Performer of the Year award with two other swimmers. That same year, she also swam in the international races of the Pan American Games. There she earned a medal in the 4×100 free relay and she won gold swimming in the 100-meter fly. She also set a World Record in the 400 meter medley short course relay with a split time of 55:01 in the butterfly. It seemed like everywhere she went, she won medals.
Her First Olympics
Then came the Olympics in Rio. First, Worrell had to qualify and she did by beating Dana Vollmer with a 56.48 in the 100-meter butterfly. In Rio, she won one medal in the 4×100 medley relay where she swam butterfly. She did not medal individually; she finished 9th in the 100-meter butterfly.
Dominating in the Pool in December
Worrell is continuing her dominance in the pool. Just this month, she set three records for American swimmers in the Short Course Worlds in Windsor, Ontario. She dropped her own time in the 100-fly to 55.22. She set a record in the 200-fly, 2:02.89 and she swam the 50-fly in under 25 seconds – she is first American woman to do so. Along with these three records, she picked up a handful of medals in individual and relays, too. She will also graduate from college at the end of the month.
As a college graduate, she will become a professional swimmer who has already signed on with lucrative sponsorship. TYR signed her as soon as she was finished with her NCAA eligibility. The handbag company Vera Bradley has also given her some work to do. She also has a handful of sponsorship from local companies in New Jersey where she grew up.
It is safe to say that Worrell is not finished setting records and earning medals as she prepares for the next step in the world of professional swimming.