Matthew Chai, a swimmer on Fullerton Aquatic Sports Teams (FAST), won his first national championship in December at the Junior Nationals West event in Austin, Texas.
The 18-year-old swam to an impressive victory in the 1650-yard freestyle. With his time of 14:45.37, Chai won the event by more than 10 seconds (including the East meet) and he moved into position as the 11th fastest 17-18-year-old in American history. He also finished third in the 500-yard freestyle and set three new FAST team records.
Chai and three of his FAST teammates, Kailee Chow, Skyler Kao, and Alex Min, were among 1,200 athletes to race against the best 18 and under swimmers west of the Mississippi River.
At his first US Open Meet in Greensboro NC, also in December, Chai had two top eight finishes. The meet attracted multiple Olympians, including USA gold medalists Katie Ledecky and Bobby Finke.
In the 800-meter freestyle, Chai swam a second personal best time of 8:09.74 to finish eighth. In the 400-meter freestyle, he swam a personal best time of 3:57.39 to place seventh.
Chai was one of three FAST swimmers, including Simon Lamar and Patrick Park, who competed this past summer at the US Olympic Trials. Chai, a senior at Sonora High School, has signed to swim at Cal Berkeley in college.
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