Born: July 15, 1994
Kelsi Worrell was born July 15, 1994 in Voorhees and grew up in nearby Westampton Township. She was the first of six kids born to Erica and Robert Worrell, and began swimming at a Mommy & Me class. All the Worrell children became excellent swimmers, learning their strokes at the local swim club. Kelsi—long, lean and athletic—was already a distinguished competitor by the time she enrolled at Rancocas Valley Regional High in Mt. Holly. There she would follow in the footsteps of previous Red Devils who became world-class athletes, including Franco Harris, Irving Fryar, Alonzo Spellman and DeMya Walker.
Kelsi was named Burlington County Swimmer of the Year four years in a row, and served as captain of the swim team. She was a high school All-American in freestyle, backstroke and butterfly, which was her strongest event. She was state champion in the fly as a sophomore, junior and senior. She qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials in the 100m butterfly after graduation but did not make the team.
In 2012, Kelsi enrolled at the University of Louisville on a swimming scholarship. She broke the Big East record for the 100-yard butterfly as a freshman, won three individual events at the conference championships, and qualified for the NCAA Championships in 2013 to earn her first of many All-American designations. In 2013–14, Kelsi finished second at the NCAA Championships in the100y butterfly.
Kelsi reached the next level in 2015, when she won the NCAA Championships in the 100y butterfly. She broke a 13-year-old record belonging to Natalie Coughlin and became the first woman to swim the 100 in under 50 seconds, with a time of 49.43. In the U.S. Nationals, she beat reigning butterfly champion Dana Vollmer.
At the Pan American Games that summer, Kelsi won gold in the 100m butterfly and 4x100 medley relay. She was also part of the silver-medal winning 4x100 freestyle team. Kelsi capped off a great 2015 at the Duel in the Pool—a Ryder Cup-like event—when she was part of a medley squad that defeated the European team in record time. Matt Gravers also set a world record at that event, in the backstroke.
Kelsi continued winning in 2016, finishing first in the 100m butterfly at the Olympic Trials. She was among the favorites in the event in Rio, but swam poorly in qualifying and did not make the final. Kelsi did not leave Brazil empty-handed, however. She was part of the gold medal-winning 4x100 medley relay team.
Kelsi won more gold that December at the World Championships in Canada as a member of the U.S. women’s 4x100 and 4x50 medley relay teams, and also the mixed 4x50 medley relay, swimming with Tom Shields, Michael Chadwick, and Lilly King. She took individual silver in the 50, 100 and 200m butterfly.
In 2017, Kelsi continued to rule the pool, winning the 50m and 100m at the World Team Trials. She is now a professional swimmer.