Cardinal Gibbons High School (NC) swimming phenom Claire Curzan has racked up a wide range of accolades for her pool exploits, and she’s thrilled with her latest applause – 2022 USA TODAY High School Athletic Awards Female athlete of the year.
“It was really shocking, but also a huge honor,” Stanford University-bound Curzan said of the selection. “I was very excited about it. I was even honored to be nominated for this award and to be a finalist. To think that I had won was absolutely crazy, but I’m super happy and really lucky. I’m really happy I was able to bring a little more notoriety to swimming.”
The USA TODAY High School Sports Awards are the nation’s largest high school sports recognition program – featuring 24 in-person local shows nationwide culminating in the national show which captured the true essence of sport, where commitment to the spirit of competition, the pursuit of excellence, the willingness to take on challenges and the making of lifelong bonds intersect.
Curzan capped off her senior season by earning Most Outstanding Swimmer honors at the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s 4A Women’s State Swimming Championships setting a National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) record. in the 100 butterfly with a time of 49.24 seconds. She also set a new NFHS record in the 100m backstroke at 49.61.
Additionally, the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics silver medalist helped the Crusaders’ 200 and 400 yard freestyle relay teams to top spots in her final high school events.
“I think I really couldn’t have asked for a better end to the season, especially with our last stint,” Curzan said. “Being able to pick up two stints on the number one podium was fun and memorable to share with my team before I left.”
Cardinal Gibbons head swimming and diving coach Jonah Turner said Curzan’s national laurel was well deserved.
“Over the past four years, it’s been great fun watching Claire win so many awards,” he said. “It was really exciting to see her compete against elite athletes from all walks of life and not only to be nominated, but to be chosen as athlete of the year is a great honor and it was really cool to to see him win. It was a great way to cap off his career at Cardinal Gibbons.”
Curzan’s entry into swimming stemmed from family influence.
“My parents were passionate about water safety when I was younger and I have an older brother who is a sophomore in college now,” she said. “Being competitive and young, I wanted to see what he was doing, so I joined the swim team with him. I fell in love with the water and just wanted to keep going back to the pool.”
Swimming is also an outlet, according to Curzan.
“You can make yourself physically stronger,” she said. “And I love that you can push yourself to the limit and see what you can really achieve and be able to push yourself to do cool things. I love being able to meet all these cool people in the sport and race internationally It’s something I’ve been leaning into more recently and it’s been amazing.”
In addition to competing at the Tokyo Summer Games, Curzan also recently competed at the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, winning a gold medal in the 4×100 meter medley mixed relay.
“The most fun part is that you go through a training camp before you get to the venue,” Curzan said. “For the Olympics we went to Hawaii for two and a half weeks and for the world championships we went to Croatia. The Olympics was particularly scary because it was my first big trip with the national team. was amazing because I’ve looked up to so many people on this team for so long. Our meetings are always super fun and everyone is so supportive.
Curzan offered the following regarding his mental approach to dating.
“The most important thing for me is that every race is an opportunity to do something better,” she said. “Making sure I capitalize on every run, have fun and enjoy the moment. Swimming isn’t a lifetime, so being able to make the most of every time I’m in the water is one of my Goals. “
Turner said one of Curzan’s main attributes is his humble nature.
“It hasn’t changed and hasn’t changed since she came in as a freshman – even coming back from the Olympics and swimming on our team this year,” he said. “Someone of her caliber, of elite status, she may have been knocked out by some of the athletes on the Olympic team, but now she’s one of those stars that people feel to get hit when they see her. That’s the great thing about She doesn’t let any of that go to her head. She stays humble and focused.
Curzan said when he visited the Stanford campus there was an undeniable connection.
“What struck me about Stanford was how at home I felt, even though I was 3,000 miles from home,” she said. “I don’t think I ever imagined myself going this far, but I felt so comfortable with the girls and the coaches. It was like hanging out with a group of my friends and doing something that I love, being in the water. That’s where I was happy and most comfortable.”
Turner praised the student-athletes in Cardinal Gibbons’ swimming and diving program for embracing the life lessons learned from the sport.
“Whether it’s discipline, time management, or hard work and commitment, these are obviously just a few that most swimmers embrace and apply when they leave college and head to the real world,” he said. “Every year, the culture is about identifying your role, because everyone matters.”