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Chelsea's dad, beau get along _ swimmingly

President Clinton approves of the Stanford University swimmer who is dating first daughter Chelsea, the White House said _ reluctantly _ Tuesday.

"I think it was rather obvious," White House press secretary Mike McCurry said when asked what the president thought of Matthew Pierce, the 20-year-old Texan identified as Chelsea's beau.

McCurry was referring to the arm the president draped approvingly around Pierce last weekend as the young man joined the Clintons for lunch.

McCurry would offer no details.

"We've elected not to comment on her private life, and that will remain the case," McCurry said.

Pierce's father, Dale Pierce, told the Conroe (Texas) Courier that he approves of Chelsea, 18.

"We've met her and she is a charming young lady," Pierce said.

Matthew Pierce, whose family lives in the Woodlands, near Conroe, was thrust into the media spotlight during the weekend after he attended church with Chelsea and her parents.

The president and Mrs. Clinton were visiting Chelsea at Stanford University, where she is a freshman.

Dale Pierce said his son, a Stanford junior and a top swimmer, met Chelsea on the first day of school.

"It so happened that she lives in one of the dorms that some of the other swimmers live in. He started having breakfast with her and they just developed a relationship over time," Dale Pierce said.

Matthew and Chelsea have a lot in common, he said.

"I think they share an intellectual interest that is really hard to describe. They are both very intelligent people and they are quick and witty. They seem to get along very well together," his father said.

Matthew is a religious studies major. His win in the 200 meter butterfly this year helped Stanford take the NCAA swimming championship. He also competed in the backstroke and took part in the U.S. Olympic trials two years ago.