tampabay.com

Nauta's advanced for any age

Tampa Prep's Chelsea Nauta is so solid in her strokes, she has helped teach others even at a young age.

By KEITH NIEBUHR
Published August 23, 2005


TAMPA - Chelsea Nauta understood the dynamics of the stroke at an early age. What made it work. What made it fail. Her eye was so keen that the moment something happened, she usually knew the cause.

Nauta thought like a coach.

Even though she was 10.

"When you looked at her stroke, it was perfect," said Tampa Prep coach Rich Rogers, who has trained Nauta since she was 6. "She was always learning and teaching, even as a 10-year old."

And still is.

Rogers says he isn't the type of coach to overhype someone, but it's difficult for him not to get excited about his star's potential. In Nauta, a Tampa Prep junior and member of the Tampa Bay Aquatics club squad he also coaches, Rogers recognizes that every day in the pool something special is happening before him.

"She's world class," he said. "She's in a league all to herself. Her potential in this sport is unlimited, based on desire, drive and dedication. When you throw in her technical proficiency, the sky is the limit. Everything has always gone from my mouth to her fingertips. She's in elite company."

Nauta, 16, has too many accolades to list, but here's the condensed version.

She has qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter freestyle.

She is being recruited by every major college program, including Florida, Georgia, Southern California, Stanford and Texas.

Her national record in the 100-yard free for the 10-and-under division has stood for six years.

She competed with team USA in the 2005 Junior Pan-Pacific Games, earning bronze in two relays.

Last fall, she was the state champion in both the 100- and 200-yard free. She also won the 100 free as a ninth-grader.

She was the first sophomore to be named Florida female Swimmer of the Year. "That title was really cool," Nauta said.

Both of her championship times at state in 2004 were the third-fastest of the season by a high school swimmer in the United States.

Of course, Nauta isn't content.

No champion ever is.

"My times can always be better," she said.

If they continue to improve, there is every reason to believe she will become the area's next Olympic swimmer, Rogers said. But in Nauta, he sees more than skill, he sees a complete competitor.

"We promote championship behavior," Rogers said. "We try to emulate the character of Olympians. We want true champions. And she's very well-rounded."