World Championships, Day 7 Finals: Claire Curzan Caps Backstroke Sweep With Gold in 200 Distance

Claire Curzan

World Championships, Day 7 Finals: Claire Curzan Caps Backstroke Sweep With Gold in 200 Distance

When Claire Curzan departed for the World Championships, the American stared at an opportunity to affirm her status as a Team USA standout. A phenom since her early teenage years, Curzan surely took advantage of her trip to Doha and will be one of the most-watched athletes at June’s United States Olympic Trials in Indianapolis.

With world titles already pocketed earlier in the week, Curzan completed the backstroke trifecta on Saturday morning when she rolled to victory in the 200-meter distance. The top seed heading into the final, Curzan was unchallenged en route to a time of 2:05.77. That performance gave the 19-year-old a 1.26-second clearance of silver medalist Jaclyn Barclay of Australia, who was timed in 2:07.03. The bronze medal went to neutral athlete Anastasiya Shkurdai, who touched in 2:09.08. Shkurdai hails from Belarus.

Curzan went out in 29.58 to build almost a half-second lead on Barclay. By the 100-meter mark, she was ahead by nearly a second and the back half of her swim was a coronation of sorts.

From the start of the meet, it was clear Curzan, a Tokyo Olympian, was ready to produce a number of impressive swims. She opened with a silver medal in the 100 butterfly, an event which set the table for ensuing gold medals in the 100 backstroke, 50 back and, finally, the 200 backstroke. For good measure, Curzan also came through with a stellar fly leg as the United States grabbed gold in the 400 mixed medley relay.

Because the United States Olympic Trials is loaded with talent, Curzan will need to be in peak form when she arrives in Indy later this summer. Yet, her confidence level should be at an all-time high, riding the wave she has generated in Doha. She can rest soundly with the knowledge that training at the University of Virginia is paying dividends, with additional time ahead to fine-tune her skill set for the biggest summer of her career.


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