Claire Curzan reacts following her victory in the women's 50-meter butterfly final at the Phillips 66 International Team Trials on April 27, 2022 in Greensboro, N.C.
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Claire Curzan has had her own cheering section inside the Greensboro Aquatic Center this week, and the group has grown larger by the day.
Members of Curzan’s family have sat in the stands and loudly shown their support for her during the Phillips 66 International Team Trials.
They’ve cheered when Curzan is standing on the pool deck, and they’ve made even more noise when the 17-year-old teenager is in the water racing.
Greensboro is only 70 miles from Curzan’s hometown of Cary, North Carolina. So it’s no surprise that her friends and family members have made the short drive down Interstate 40 to watch her compete for a spot at this summer’s 2022 FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
They’re creating an atmosphere that feels a world away from that in Tokyo last summer, when Curzan made her Olympic debut. Due to the pandemic, family was unable to join the athletes in Japan, and fans were barred from the stadiums.
“It just seems to be more and more people coming. I know that my family is coming, and then all of a sudden, family friends and all these different people,” Curzan said. “So it’s always fun to look up in the stands and see them going crazy because that’s what they do.
“They have cowbells and everything, so it’s super fun to have them.”
With her family by her side, Curzan has made the most of her time at the international team trials and gained more confidence along the way.
Less than a year ago in Tokyo, Curzan finished 10th in the women’s 100-meter butterfly and swam in the prelims on the U.S. women’s 4x100-meter medley team that went on to win the silver medal.
It was Curzan’s first exposure to racing on such a large stage. Now back in her home state, she has shown her speed and versatility while swimming in a pool she’s familiar with in Greensboro.
“It means the world,” said Curzan, who’ll turn age 18 on June 30. “I think this is definitely how I’d hoped it’d go.”
Curzan secured a spot at her first world championships in Budapest when she took second in the women’s 100-meter freestyle race on Tuesday’s opening night of the international team trials. She finished in 53.58 seconds, just behind Olympic silver medalist Torri Huske at 53.35 seconds.