Hunter Armstrong and Claire Curzan made history by giving the U.S. a sweep of the 100m backstroke golds at the world swimming championships for the first time since 2013. The U.S. last swept the 100m back golds in 2013 with Missy Franklin and Matt Grevers.
The 6-foot-8 Armstrong earned his third world medal in the event after bronzes the last two years. He overtook Spain’s Hugo Gonzalez, a training partner at Cal, by two hundredths of a second. Curzan, 19, earned her first individual world title, clocking a personal best 58.29 seconds in Doha.
Among the stars to skip these worlds, the first held in an Olympic year, were 100m back world record holders Thomas Ceccon of Italy and Kaylee McKeown of Australia. Plus, the top U.S. backstrokers last year — world champion Ryan Murphy and world silver medalist Regan Smith.
Americans are preparing for June’s Olympic Trials, where the top two in each event (top six in 100m and 200m freestyles for relays) make the team for Paris.
In the last Olympic cycle, Armstrong went from 19th in the nation in the 100m back in 2019 to taking second to Murphy at the trials. Armstrong tied for ninth in Tokyo before making the podium at three consecutive worlds. Curzan was runner-up in the 100m fly at the Tokyo trials at age 16, then placed 10th at the Olympics.
Also Tuesday, South Korean Hwang Sun-Woo won the men’s 200m freestyle in 1:44.75 after taking silver and bronze the last two years. American Luke Hobson earned bronze, his first individual world medal.
The fastest men in this Olympic cycle remain Romanian David Popovici (1:42.97 from 2022) and Brit Matthew Richards (1:44.30 from 2023), who weren’t in the Doha field.
Worlds continue Wednesday with finals live on Peacock at 11 a.m. ET.