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.
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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