Name: Kendra Chernoff
Local Team: Oregon Reign
Occupation: Chiropractic Student
I moved to Portland in January of 2017 to start chiropractic school at the University of Western States. Having retired from competitive swimming in 2015, I decided I was ready to pick it back up again, this time with no competitive pressure looming over me, and in hopes of meeting the local swimming community. Little did I know that I was about to meet the most kind and welcoming group of people, who have made my move to Oregon a smooth and easy transition.
I was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. I started swimming competitively when I was 9 years old because my best friend was doing it, and little did I know it would steer my life down a course I never imagined it would take. When I turned 15, my club in Saskatoon hired a new coach, Richard Millns, who would forever change my outlook on life and who helped me fall in love with the sport. His coaching philosophy was the kind that not only made you a better swimmer, but made you have a better understanding of life and all that it has to throw at you. Richard taught us teenage kids to be passionate about our goals both in and out of the pool and that we could do so much more than we thought possible. I remember one day at practice my friend Brittney and I were so tired that we were crying during a really hard fly set because the expectation was so high and we did not think we could meet it. Richard pulled us out of the pool, gave us some face paint, told us to go put it on, and when we came back we would be ready to finish the set. It seems silly telling the story now, but it was a groundbreaking moment for us when we did meet that expectation with a whole new mindset, and went on to surpass so much more than we ever would have thought, in our swimming careers, through many hard practices, races, and meets. That year my 200 LCM butterfly dropped from a 2:37 to a 2:17, (I never thought I’d see the day when I would become a “200 butterflyer”), and my 100 fly from 1:04 to 1:00. Both Brittney and I went on to become one of the top swimmers in Canada in our respective events.
At 16 years old I attended my first Olympic trials in 2008, where I placed 4th in the 100 LCM butterfly. That same year I made my first junior national team that took me to the FINA World Youth Championships in Monterrey, Mexico. I was fortunate enough to make a few other national teams taking me to Guam, the UK and several places in the U.S. and Canada. In the summer of 2009 at Canadian World Championship Trials in Montreal I swam a Canadian record in the 100 LCM butterfly, which at that time was 58.70. Unfortunately that was a morning swim and I did not swim fast enough in finals to qualify for the World Championships in Rome. The record was soon broken that year before the high-tech suit ban was established. Don’t worry, I never wore a high-tech suit!
I attended Texas A&M for my first two years of college. I qualified for NCAA’s both years, earning top 16 in the 200 yard butterfly in my sophomore year. I loved everything about living in College Station, from my amazingly talented teammates to our wonderfully compassionate coach, Steve Bultman. However, I eventually decided that yards was not really my thing and I wanted to focus on qualifying for the Olympics in London the following year. I moved to Edmonton, Alberta, to train with my old coach Richard. While attending the University of Alberta in Edmonton, I went to my second Canadian Olympic Trials in 2012, and again, placed 4th in the 100 LCM butterfly, not qualifying for the Olympics for the second time.
I continued to swim with the University of Alberta until 2015, when I called it quits upon graduation. It was a difficult decision, but it had been a long, hard road and I was ready to move on. I took a year and a half off before coming back to graduate school – to travel of course – like many of us millennials do. I worked as a forest firefighter for a few summers in Northern Alberta, which served as a foundation for my love of the outdoors.
Naturally, living in Oregon has made it easy to cater to that passion. I have since picked up both trail and road running. I recently did Hood to Coast – WOW, what a blast!!! Also, I do my best to get out skiing whenever possible. Nevertheless, as much as I appreciate opting outside when I need to get away from reality, nothing can outweigh the serenity or bring me back to truly feeling like myself, than when I am in the water. I feel so fortunate to have found the wonderful, sincere people I have met in the Oregon swimming community – it is a daily reminder of how lucky I am to have found this incredible sport!