The past year of Devon Chenot’s swimming life has included plenty of transitions.
The Carlisle senior went from one-man band to leader on one of the Mid-Penn Conference’s well-regarded programs. From competing in Class 2A to winning gold medals in Class 3A. From intriguing prospect to NCAA Division I commit.
Chenot has navigated all that with relative ease, thanks in large part to help from his friends.
He arrived at Carlisle last year after spending his freshman and sophomore years at West Perry, where he competed independently. His insertion into an already talented Thundering Herd roster has proven beneficial for both parties.
“I think for me, being on a team changed everything,” Chenot said. “I got to be around these amazing kids that I call my teammates. Just being on a relay squad, and cheering other people on when they raced, was something that I was missing those first two years. That really helped motivate me.”
Proof of that came in the postseason, when Chenot claimed two individual golds at both the Mid-Penn Conference Championships (50 free, 100 fly) and the District 3 Championships (50 free, 100 free). He followed those performances with a pair of eighth-place finishes at the PIAA meet.
It wasn’t just a solo effort, though.
Chenot was also part of two medal-winning relay teams at districts, demonstrating how he and his new squad had helped each other reach new heights: the Herd gave him a strong group of teammates ready to take the next step, and he brought a pedigree that included a pair of District 3 Class AA titles won as a freshman.
“Devon has swum for the Carlisle Family YMCA since he was 9, with me as his coach and with a lot of these same kids as his teammates,” Carlisle coach Tara Young said. “Since he already had those relationships, he came in as a leader right away. It was a good boost for the program, to have somebody who had already experienced success and who could come in and lead and be a role model for the younger kids.”
Chenot’s district performance last season put him solidly on the radar of Penn State, which kept tabs on the rising senior throughout the summer YMCA circuit. He took his official visit to the school in September, after which he committed to the Nittany Lions.
Chenot had also taken an official visit to Pitt and had conversations with Cornell and Virginia Tech.
“I’ve always followed Penn State, and had always swam up there for YMCA state championships,” Chenot said. “Until last year, though, I had never considered it for swimming. It ended up really working out. They got in touch with me right before or right after districts last year, and really stayed in good contact throughout the summer. I took the official visit in September and it was the right fit.”
With his future plans locked down, Chenot is free to focus on his goals for the scholastic season.
Perhaps not surprisingly, No. 1 on is his list is a team achievement — a gold medal in a relay event at the Mid-Penn Championships. The Herd finished second in the 200 free relay and third in the 400 free relay last year at that meet. Juniors Isaiah Bell and Caleb Padgett return from those squads, making the prospect a realistic one.
Chenot will also see his brother, freshman Nolan Chenot, join the squad. They join a long list of siblings that have competed for Carlisle in recent years, further cementing the bond Devon has made with his Herd teammates.
“It’s more than just yourself,” Young said. “He loves cheering on the rest of the team, seeing everyone else have success, and being on the relay teams. That kind of stuff is what makes high school swimming different.”
Carlisle’s season begins Tuesday with a dual meet at home against Central Dauphin at 4 p.m. The Herd are at home for three of their first four meets to start the year.
The Herd boys and girls both finished fourth last year in the brutal Mid-Penn Commonwealth, behind Hershey, Cumberland Valley and State College.