Carlos Arena was a member of the Mexican Olympic swim team in the 1996 Summer Olympic Games held in Atlanta. During the 1996 Olympics, Carlos competed in the 100m and 200m backstroke. The same year, while in school in Texas, he swam in the NCAA Championship team.
Carlos is also an ambassador for Right to Play where he was the first athlete to incorporate fundraising into one of their events. He organized a relay team and competed in the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim raising over $8,000. He competed alongside Right to Play ambassador and Team Darfur athlete, Nikki Dryden.