In Face of Adversity, Claire Curzan Shined, and Set Stage For Additional Future Success


In Face of Adversity, Claire Curzan Shined, and Set Stage For Additional Future Success

You want guts from the past week at the United States National Championships? Look no further than Claire Curzan.

In the weeks leading up to the selection meet for this summer’s World Championships in Fukuoka, Curzan was pegged as a top contender in multiple events. The 100 backstroke and 200 backstroke. The 100 butterfly. The sprint-freestyle events. All carried strong qualification potential for the 19-year-old, a Tokyo Olympian who has been a fixture for Team USA over the past few years.

Yet, a week before Trials, Curzan experienced every athlete’s nightmare ahead of a major competition. She was severely hampered by illness, to the point where she required hospitalization and considered withdrawing from Nationals. Instead, Curzan made the trip to Indianapolis, and fought through the five-day meet with tenacity and grace.

The roster USA Swimming will send to the World Championships ultimately does not include Curzan, as the effects from her illness left the teen shy of a berth to Japan and a second consecutive trip to the World Champs. Still, Curzan backhanded adversity and put together several superb performances during the week. Consider:

  • After missing the final of the 100 freestyle on the opening day of action, Curzan bounced back to finish third in the 200 backstroke, clocking a personal-best time of 2:06.35. More, she was third in the 50 butterfly, going 25.74.
  • On Day Three, Curzan produced a sterling mark of 56.61 in the 100 butterfly, good for fourth place. That effort ranks seventh in the world for 2023.
  • In the 100 backstroke, Curzan moved to No. 5 in the world rankings, on the strength of a 58.59 performance.

Curzan’s week was strong, and in light of what she was dealing with from a health perspective, it was dynamic. While she won’t travel to the World Championships, Curzan earned the opportunity to compete at the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile in the Fall. That competition will provide some additional racing opportunities on the international stage and should be a solid launching point into the Olympic campaign.

From a silver-lining point of view, enduring a severe illness prior to the Trials for the World Championships is a better scenario that sickness arising before next year’s Olympic Trials for the 2024 Paris Games. More, Curzan can take solace in knowing she can handle adversity and will grow from the experience.

Throughout the week, Curzan wore a smile on the podium in Indianapolis. She exhibited distinct grace in the face of a difficult situation, and for that demeanor, she deserves applause. For as talented as she is as a world-class performer, Curzan also showed herself to be a full of class as a competitor and teammate.

Curzan has announced she will take a redshirt year from collegiate competition at Stanford University and focus on her training for the Olympic year. As she moves toward a potential bid to Paris, she’ll hopefully be unaffected by another unfortunately timed illness, and will get the chance to race in peak form.

Team USA would surely benefit.

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Jerry Smith
Jerry Smith
10 months ago

Good for you,Clair! We are only neighbors of your grandparents, but we feel the pride in your accomplishments. Such a joy to was your successes. We wish you good health and the best of luck going forward,

Jerry & Elaine Smith

10 months ago

Great article. We put too much emphasis on making the World’s Team. Outstanding performances in and out of pool need to be celebrated too.
Professionalism from a 19yo need to be spotlighted.

Andrew Dean
Andrew Dean
10 months ago

….”can take solace in knowing she can handle adversity and will grow from the experience.”….self belief and trust in your support team, can’t buy that recipe. Best wishes!!!!

9 months ago

As a North Carolina native, I’ve watched Claire Curzan at swim meets since my children and other relatives swam age group at same events. In addition to being polite, friendly, and hard working — I think she is ALWAYS smiling. Hard not to root for Claire…!

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