Hunter Armstrong is a competitive swimmer who represents the United States internationally. He is a 2021 Olympian and world championship medalist in the 50 and 100 backstroke. He was the first American in history (and 2nd overall) to dip under 24 seconds in the 50m backstroke and currently holds the world record in it.
2019 Summer Junior Nationals
Hunter Armstrong had a breakout 2019 Jr Nats, taking wins in the 100 free (49.80), 50 free (22.57), and 100 back (54.91). The latter of those swims broke a meet record held previously by Michael Andrew.
Speaking with Hunter at the meet, he admitted that he had only been swimming year-round for about a year and that his primary motivation for starting to do so was so he could go on the Florida training trip his team was traveling to.
Armstrong graduated from Dover High School in 2019 and went to West Virginia, where his older brother Jake Armstrong, a two-time Big 12 Champion and NCAA All-American Honorable Mention in the 100 breast, had spent his collegiate career. Their parents were both student-athletes (father played football; mother, basketball) at Ferrum College in Virginia.
2019-2020 (West Virginia)
In his freshman season, Armstrong posted times of 19.78 in the 50 free (4th), 46.22 in the 100 back (3rd), and 42.91 in the 100 free (4th) at the Big-12 Championships.
After his freshman season, Armstrong announced he was transferring to Ohio State, which was closer to his home of Dover, Ohio.
2020-2021 (Ohio State)
At his first Big Ten Championships, Armstrong shined. individually, he placed 4th in the 50 free (19.19), 2nd in the 100 back (45.50), and 3rd in the 100 free (42.37). He also swam on OSU’s 800 free relay (2nd), 400 medley relay (3rd), 200 free relay (3rd), and 400 free relay (2nd).
At the NCAA Championships, Armstrong placed 21st in the 50 free (19.45) and 13th in the 100 back (45.48). He opted out of a 3rd individual event and swam on all 5 Ohio State relays, including the 800 free (14th), 200 free (17th), 400 medley (DQ’ed), 200 medley (4th), and 400 free (12th).
In his 2nd season as a buckeye, Armstrong continued to progress in the pool. At the 2022 Big Ten Champs, he captured Big Ten title in the 50 free (18.93) and 100 free (41.78) and as part of Ohio State’s 200 free, 400 free, and 200 medley relays. He also placed 2nd in the 100 back (44.78) and as a part of OSU’s 400 medley relay.
At the NCAA Championships, Armstrong placed 5th in the 100 back (44.42) and 16th in the 100 free (42.70).
2021 Olympic Trials
On night 3 in Omaha, after surprising even himself by heading into the 100 back final as the 2nd seed, Armstrong used a sensational back half (the best in the field) to hold seed and touch 2nd behind Ryan Murphy at 52.48, qualifying for his first Olympic Team.
The Magic Man
Hunter picked up magic as a hobby and is known for his prowess at the craft, giving him the nickname “magic man”. This was showcased at the 2021 Olympic training camp, when he used card tricks to present Team USA with the 4 Olympic team captains.
Work that captain ✨magic✨
— USA Swimming (@USASwimming) July 5, 2021
2020 Olympic Games
Armstrong started his Games in the 100 back, where he moved through prelims and tied with Japan’s Ryosuke Irie for 9th in semifinals at 53.21, .01 off of making the final.
On day 7, Armstrong swam on the prelims of the 4×100 medley relay, leading off in 53.51 to help USA reach the final, where they went on to earn gold. This gave Armstrong his first Olympic medal.
2022 World Championship Trials
On night 1 in Greensboro, Armstrong proved that his Olympic qualification was not a fluke, putting himself on the world champ team by tying for 4th in the 100 free in 48.25.
But the real fireworks came 2 nights later in the 50 back, when Armstrong, who set the American record in prelims with a 24.01, shattered the world record in the event. The Buckeye touched for first at 23.71, shaving .09 off of Kliment Kolesnikov’s previous mark and giving Armstrong his first national title.
Armstrong went on to win the 100 back on Night 4, topping a stacked field with another huge PB of 52.20. On the last night of competition, he went a PB of 22.00 in the 50 free to tie for 5th.
2022 World Championships
Armstrong started his meet in Budapest in the 4×100 free relay prelims, leading-off for team USA in 48.34 to help them secure lane 4 for the final. USA would go on to win gold in the final, netting Armstrong his first world championship gold.
On day 3, Armstrong competed in the 100 back final, swimming a strong back-half to touch at 51.98, good for bronze and just .01 behind his American teammate, Ryan Murphy. On day 4, Armstrong swam in the final of the 400 mixed medley relay, leading off in 52.14 to help USA dominate the heat and win gold.
On day 7 Armstrong swam prelims and semis of the 50 back, qualifying in 2nd for the final behind his teammate, Justin Ress. On the final day of the meet, day 8, Armstrong took backstroke duties in the prelims of the 400 medley relay, securing a spot for the US in the final where they would go on to place 2nd, earning Hunter a silver.
In the final of the 50 back, Hunter touched 2nd behind Ress initially, but Ress was called for a DQ, crowning Armstrong the world champion. After the medal ceremony, however, the DQ was overturned and Armstrong ultimately wound up earning silver.