American butterfly genius Claire Curzan: “I watched this girl who likes to swim fast” | Tokyo Olympics 2020


What does a 3 year old swimming genius look like?

Mark Kazan knows the answer now, but he didn’t know it then.

Fourteen years ago, he proudly watched his daughter Claire catch and even beat six-year-olds in a 15-meter race at a local community pool. At 6 a.m. on Saturday, I proudly watch my 17-year-old daughter play the 100-meter butterfly at the Tokyo Olympics from my home.

Claire is one of four American under-18 swimmers competing for the U.S. team in Japan. She’s not even the youngest member of the squad, but heralds a true replacement for guards in a 53-member squad. Claire passed qualifying in June with a time of 56.43 seconds in the three-way sprint, which finished second for full length of the football pitch.

“These parents see their kids saying they will go to the Olympics someday, and everyone says it will pay off, but they see the second behind her name on the biggest stage in the country. It wasn’t over before, ”said Mark, who swam in high school in Santa Barbara. “This is one of those amazing, heartbreaking moments.”

Of course, many other moments had to happen before that. Claire’s swimming career began at an outdoor community pool in Cary, North Carolina. There, the father and uncle organized a race for water safety and the neighborhood children. Tuesday evening, the pool was illuminated by floodlights and filled with “summer swims”. There, the children were able to win medals, or at least pizza and ice cream.

“My favorite part of summer swimming was the tournament,” said Claire, who spoke to the Guardian before leaving for Tokyo. I have big, sweet teeth so I’ll probably have some ice cream later. Never swim with fast food in one place. “

At first, Claire competed with her brother, Sean, and another competitive swimmer. When Claire was old enough, she taught her sister to swim. “She didn’t put her ears down, she didn’t like that feeling,” Claire said. “I never had it. I loved the water and I was there. So I think it attracted me.

The ballet had the best strokes to beat the stroke to get Claire’s attention. She was attentive and knowledgeable, but over time she noticed that the discipline became stricter. “I didn’t like tight stuff,” she said of the uniform. The Nutcracker recital gradually gave way to swimming competition, and at the age of 11, five years after training, Claire put her ballerinas away for good.

The day Claire’s plush trophy shelves collapsed in her bedroom, Mark and his wife, Tracy, decided to look for swimming lessons all year round. Raleigh’s Triangle Aquatic Center, which opened two years before Claire was born, was a 20-minute drive from Kazan House. There was a 50m Olympic swimming pool. This is a resource that not all young swimmers get.

Claire made inroads at the age of 12, literally when she set the first National Age Group Record (NAG) at a conference at Ohio State University.

“She was 12 and competed with 18,” said Mark, who was accompanying his daughter on the trip. “To see [on-screen] The announcer describes his race – he was really excited to announce his arrival. She made the C final – it’s the third level – and she set her first national record with a 100 butterfly yard. “

That night, as the snow gently fell around them, the father and daughter took photos of the famous Horseshoe Stadium behind them.

His very young Claire Kazan as a swimmer. She has been swimming since the age of 3. Photo: Kazan family

“It was one of those bonding moments that Hallmark couldn’t do better than he wrote it down,” Mark said. It was also the start of a quick schedule for qualifying tournaments across the country – the path almost all swimmers take to reach the Olympics. The two doctors, Mark and his wife, took turns in the contest with their daughter.

Over the next four years, we had breakfast in the car, a long drive, and a long early morning flight. A friend’s birthday and party was traded for hair sung with chlorine, a peel, and a vase of petroleum jelly to combat it. The holidays required the approval of the coach. Activities such as swimming and skiing with red rays were considered too dangerous.

Claire’s career was a straight climb, so the sacrifice paid off. swimming With the 2018 13-14 age group, Claire broke the NAG record three times, saving a few seconds. She swam with TAC Titan and broke four other NAG records. In fact, as Claire rose through the ranks from sector to sector to the public, she broke at least seven records, including one held by five-time Olympic champion Missy Franklin. Claire won four medals at the World Championships in Budapest. It seemed the only way to slow her down would be to slow down the earth itself.

When the Covid pandemic erupted in March 2020, there were concerns that swimmers who rarely took more than a day at a time at the pool would suffer. Claire wore a wetsuit and swam in her neighbor’s pool while the TAC remained closed for six weeks, and her trainer was tied behind her for resistance.

“When it comes to swimming, a six-week vacation is like a heretic,” Mark said. “But the mental and physical breaks actually gave him energy. She had her best time a few weeks later, which she objected to. [traditional] The idea and the mantra of having to be in the pool every day. “

The 2020 Olympics have finally been postponed, but Claire’s schedule for the past year remains tight. She swam two hours in front of the school and on Saturday every morning and did an extra pool session three days a week. On dry land, Claire was strengthened with weights and bands, conditioned, and joined her mother three days a week for aerobic exercise.

Claire returned to competition in July 2020 and set four more NAG records the following year. Last April, she became the second fastest American in history with a 100-meter butterfly.

Claire was the first seed for the US Olympic trials in June. Mark was a good tracker and was concerned that this would negatively impact her as he could overtake the leader in the final gust. From now on, Claire’s competitors will chase her away. Mark explained to the driver as far as he went to the arena to see his daughter. Mark’s enthusiasm was so infectious that the driver asked him to join him. As Claire entered the final, Mark took his daughter’s trajectory from the local community pool to the horseshoe, light, camera and pageantry, now in front of them.

Claire was calmly optimistic and was enjoying the momentum she had gained over the past two years. She finished in 2nd place and reserved a place in Tokyo.

“I’m a guy who has really big goals, but I still wanted to be in the Olympics in 2020,” she said. “I had the same idea in 2021. I was confident in my training and what I was doing, so some of me knew I could do it. He just got over the nervousness and did what I’ve always done. “

American butterfly genius Claire Curzan: “I watched this girl who likes to swim fast” | Tokyo Olympics 2020

American butterfly genius Claire Curzan: “I watched this girl who likes to swim fast” | Tokyo Olympics 2020

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.