Athlete Profile: Phaelen French

USAPM Athlete Phaelen French

Major Phaelen French is a Team USA athlete in Modern Pentathlon. She began training for Modern Pentathlon after decades of pursuing other sports and career choices. Check out these five unique facts about Phaelen.

I’m serving in the USAF World Class Athlete Program (AFWCAP).

USAPM Athlete Phaelen French
Photo by: USAPM

For eight years, I could only train in my free time. In 2022, I hit the top of the national rankings and the Air Force command responsible for recruitment and morale programs took notice! They asked me to spend two years training full-time, with the mission of representing the Nation on the world stage with hopes of qualifying for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. The WCAP program inspires Americans with strong minds and bodies to consider serving their country while building on their potential as athletes.

The support the Program provides is incredible! I no longer have to squeeze practice and conditioning into the small hours outside the workday. I have the assistance of coaches and administrative staff for Modern Pentathlon’s “sixth event”. Critically, I have enough time to eat right and rest well so that I prevent injury and get the most out of the hard work my body does on the track, piste, and pool.

As an Intelligence Officer, I’ve aided Air Force operations around the globe.

USAPM Athlete Phaelen French
Photo by: USAPM

I’ve served as a Mission Operations Commander, a Deputy Branch Chief, a Liaison Officer, and an Assistant Director of Operations. I’ve been responsible for hundreds of Airmen, as we collect intelligence on those in the world who would threaten our Nation’s way of life. I supported dozens of operations against ISIS and even helped plan missions for Joint-STARS, a massive airborne RADAR platform.
It’s nice to take a break from those intense, important operations so that I can compete. But I look forward to returning to regular service after the Olympics. I hope world affairs never require our military to fence, swim, shoot, ride, and run - but if they do, I’m ready!

Being a “Complete Athlete” means I’ve got a long history in other sports.

USAPM Athlete Phaelen French
Photo by: USAPM

In High School I ran Cross Country and Track, and earned eight Varsity Letters in NCAA competition. I earned a spot on the “Top 10 All-Times Records” list at the US Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Heptathlon. Once I graduated, I switched sports and qualified for the Air Force Triathlon Team, where I competed at the National level.
Since my training is based out of Colorado Springs, I’ve had the chance to go back to my Alma Mater and use my skills to support the Cadets. I spent two semesters as Chief of the Reconditioning and Evaluations Branch, where I helped Cadets meet the rigorous physical demands of joining the military and training at USAFA.
Now, I’m spending my free time as an Officer-In-Charge and volunteer coach of the Academy’s Triathlon Team. There are so many Cadets trying their hardest to follow in my steps, and represent the Air Force in that sport. It’s my honor and pleasure to coach them to do their best!

My husband Mike inspires me to enjoy life beyond Pentathlon

USAPM Athlete Phaelen French
Photo by: USAPM

This winter, I supported Mike as he competed in his first-ever season of Biathlon - the winter sport that used to be governed by UIPM. He’s been cross-country skiing and shooting smallbore rifle. Now our training goals are starting to line up!
He’s also an amateur radio enthusiast. He taught me how to search for radio transmitters using a directional antenna - that skill can come in handy in the military, but is also used to rescue people from avalanches and communicate during the remote hiking trips we love.

I’m a classically trained vocalist, and I really look forward to singing more someday.

You wouldn’t know it unless you convinced me to belt it out on Karaoke night, but I took voice lessons regularly for eight years of my life. My Mom (my favorite accompanist) and I make music every time we’re together. I like to sing standards from the Great American Songbook as well as classical pieces. After the Olympics, maybe I can convince Mike to take some piano lessons!

USAPM Athlete Phaelen French
Photo by: USAPM

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