Claire Curzan is the dominant U.S. swimmer of 2022, so far


Claire Curzan is preparing to swim the world championships trials in her favorite venue, but she’s taking a liking to just about any pool these days.

Curzan, 10th in the Tokyo Olympic 100m butterfly at age 17, won a pair of races in a 15-minute span, including a personal-best time, at a Pro Series stop in San Antonio on Friday night.

It’s the last Pro Series meet before the world trials in four weeks in Greensboro, N.C., just over an hour drive from Curzan’s hometown of Cary.

PRO SERIES: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Curzan began her night by taking the 50m freestyle in 24.43 seconds, improving her fastest time in the nation this year. She’s now a distant three tenths ahead in the domestic rankings and the new national age-group record holder for 17- and 18-year-olds.

After a warm-down and walk back and forth on the outdoor pool deck, Curzan swam her fastest time ever in the 100m backstroke, a 58.73. She prevailed by a giant 1.32 seconds over a field that included Olympic backstrokers Rhyan White, Olivia Smoliga and Phoebe Bacon.

Curzan, committed to Stanford, now ranks first in the country this year in four different events across three strokes — 50m free, 100m butterfly and 100m and 200m backs. Katie Ledecky is the only other swimmer who tops the domestic lists in four different events in 2022 in Olympic-size pools.

Curzan has seven victories between the two Pro Series stops this year, lowering a personal best at each meet, but the real tests await.

At world trials, expect American record holders Regan Smith (100m and 200m back) and Torri Huske (100m fly) to join the fray after swimming for Stanford this fall and winter. Also look out for Kate Douglass, the Tokyo Olympic 200m individual medley bronze medalist who was the top NCAA swimmer this season, breaking American records in the 50m free, 100m fly and 200m breaststroke in a 25-yard pool.

The top two in each event at trials are in line to qualify for the world championships in Budapest in June.

The world championships will take it up another level, given non-American swimmers won 11 of the 12 medals in Tokyo in Curzan’s four primary events.

Curzan was a bigger revelation during the coronavirus pandemic, benefiting from the Olympics being pushed back one year. She trained tethered in a wetsuit in an unheated backyard pool while facilities were closed, then entered the Olympic Trials ranked first in the nation in the 50m free and 100m fly and second in the 100m free.

She made the Tokyo team in the 100m fly and earned a medley relay silver medal as a prelim swimmer.

“Obviously I would have loved to have gone faster and made the [100m fly] final,” Curzan said on the SwimSwam podcast after the Olympics, “but I think I learned a lot about those races, and I think I’m still learning more.”

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen

Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

Sifan Hassan

Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

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