The Truth About Princess Charlene's Impressive Swimming Career

In 2021, People reported that Princess Charlene of Monaco lived apart from her family in South Africa for 6 months. Originally, the royal — who had married Prince Albert II in 2011, according to the outlet — was visiting the country to help citizens through her charity organization, the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation. Per People, the organization aims to teach children how to swim in order to prevent accidental drownings. In September 2021, CNN reported that the princess had been admitted to a hospital for an ear, nose, and throat infection that prevented her traveling. Over the course of the next few months, this infection prompted Princess Charlene to receive at least a few corrective surgeries, according to People.

Just a few days after returning home to her husband and two children in November 2021, Gabrielle and Jacques, it was revealed that Princess Charlene was being treated in a medical facility outside of Monaco for "exhaustion, both emotional and physical," as Prince Albert told People. By the end of the year, the royal shared an inspiring New Year's message with her fans, per Hello! Magazine, and wished them "love throughout the season." No doubt Princess Charlene has plenty of well-wishers who are hoping for her speedy recovery ... so that maybe one day soon, she can even get back to swimming.

Princess Charlene was once an Olympic swimmer

Prior to becoming the Princess of Monaco when she wed Prince Albert, Princess Charlene had quite a successful swimming career. According to People, the future monarch's swimming career began when she was 18 years old and won the South African Championship in 1996. In 1999, the athlete nabbed 3 gold medals and a silver medal at the All-Africa Games, per Cheat Sheet. According to the outlet, Princess Charlene also qualified and competed in the Sydney Olympics as part of the 4x100 meter medley relay that took 5th place. Though she hoped to compete in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she did not qualify, and thus retired from the world of competitive swimming.

Interestingly enough, it was swimming that introduced Charlene to her future husband, Prince Albert. Per Cheat Sheet, the two met at a swim meet (over which Prince Albert was presiding) in 2000. While it's unclear when they began dating, they made their official relationship debut at the 2006 Winter Olympics. These days, Princess Charlene may not be in the pool as much as she used to, but she still spends much of her time involved in charity work such as her own foundation, which teaches kids worldwide about water safety.