World Record Holder Hunter Armstrong Following Coach Matt Bowe To Cal

Olympic gold medalist and newly-minted world record holder Hunter Armstrong will join the pro group at the University of California and move on from his training base at Ohio State University.

Armstrong is heading to Cal to remain with his primary coach at OSU, Matt Bowe, who was named the new assistant coach with the Golden Bears on Tuesday. Bowe has been with the Buckeyes for the past five seasons, including the last two as a senior associate head coach.

Armstrong, 21, announced his decision to turn pro in April following a massively successful showing at the U.S. International Team Trials, forgoing his final two seasons of NCAA eligibility.

“Over these past few years, I have built a strong connection with my sprint coach, Matt Bowe,” Armstrong said in a statement. “There is open communication and respect between me and Coach Matt, and that is exactly what I must have in order to achieve the goals I have set. I love the sport of swimming, and when you love what you do and you truly trust your coach to always have your best interest at heart, it is so much easier to work hard and strive to give Coach Matt my very best.

“Coach Matt holds me accountable and trusts me to do what is expected of me. I am fully convinced that Coach Matt will do everything in his power to help me reach my goals; therefore, I will be joining Matt Bowe at Cal Berkeley to train professionally.”

At the U.S. Trials last month in Greensboro, Armstrong broke the world record in the men’s 50 backstroke (23.71), won the 100 back and also qualified to swim on the American men’s 400 freestyle relay by placing fourth in the 100 free.

In that 100 back victory, Armstrong beat 2016 Olympic champion and current world record holder Ryan Murphy head-to-head. Murphy has been the standard in American men’s backstroke swimming for the better part of the last decade, and Armstrong expressed his excitement to join his rival-turned-training mate at Berkeley.

“With Coach Matt having the ability to remain my coach, and me being able to train with Ryan Murphy and with the rest of the amazing Cal athletes, this is an opportunity that I simply could not pass up. I truly admire and respect Ryan Murphy, and I am BEYOND excited for this opportunity and am ready to start this next exciting chapter in my life.”

Armstrong also noted he’s familiar with Cal coach Dave Durden, who was the head men’s coach last summer on the U.S. Olympic team that Armstrong was a part of.

“While training in Hawaii and in Tokyo, I had the privilege of meeting and getting to know Cal’s Head Coach, David Durden,” said Armstrong. “Coach Durden is an amazing coach and an amazing human being.”

In addition to Murphy, Cal has an excellent men’s backstroke group that also includes reigning NCAA 200 back champion Destin Lasco, along with Bryce Mefford and Bjorn Seeliger, who both made NCAA ‘A’ finals in a backstroke event this past season. Daniel Carr, who has since retired, was also third in the 200 back this past season.

Read Armstrong’s Full Statement Below:

As I’m sure most everyone is aware by now, I recently made the decision to retire from NCAA swimming in order to swim professionally. This decision may have come as a surprise to some, but this is something that I have been striving for for quite some time. With that being said, this decision still was not easy for me to make – change is never easy. Many lists of all of the positives and negatives were made, a lot of research was done, and I’ve had countless conversations with my friends, my teammates, and my family. The goals I have set for myself all revolve around swimming at an international level, and with Paris just around the corner, I want to concentrate on my international career.

The support I have received from my friends and teammates is simply overwhelming. To know that they are truly happy and want only the best for me means more to me than they will ever know. I cannot put into words how much it breaks my heart to leave OSU and my teammates. I will truly miss swimming with my brothers, and they will remain a huge part of my life forever.

Even though I will now be swimming professionally, I will continue to finish what is left of my degree (but at my own pace) and will graduate a PROUD Buckeye. I made a promise when I transferred to OSU that I will always lift this program up and strive to represent OSU in a positive light wherever I go. This university is like no other. Coach Bill (Dorenkott) and his staff bend over backwards for their athletes and care for each of us, and I personally believe that shows in the water. I am very blessed to have been a part of this program, and I will always hold my time spent swimming at The Ohio State University very close to my heart. I want to thank Coach Bill Dorenkott for everything. You are a big reason why I will be able to look back on my years of college swimming and smile…so thank you.

Over these past few years, I have built a strong connection with my sprint coach, Matt Bowe. There is open communication and respect between me and Coach Matt, and that is exactly what I must have in order to achieve the goals I have set. I love the sport of swimming, and when you love what you do and you truly trust your coach to always have your best interest at heart, it is so much easier to work hard and strive to give Coach Matt my very best. Coach Matt holds me accountable and trusts me to do what is expected of me. I am fully convinced that Coach Matt will do everything in his power to help me reach my goals; therefore, I will be joining Matt Bowe at Cal Berkley to train professionally.

While training in Hawaii and in Tokyo, I had the privilege of meeting and getting to know Cal’s Head Coach, David Durden. Coach Durden is an amazing coach and an amazing human being. With Coach Matt having the ability to remain my coach, and me being able to train with Ryan Murphy and with the rest of the amazing Cal athletes, this is an opportunity that I simply could not pass up. I truly admire and respect Ryan Murphy, and I am BEYOND excited for this opportunity and am ready to start this next exciting chapter in my life.

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This Guy
1 month ago

Now the real question. Can his new coaching staff improve his kick outs? If he even becomes moderately effective at his underwaters and start it’s over! Cal has some pretty darn good training partners that can certainly help as well. Looking forward to see his development! Insane thing to say about a world record holder lol

Admin
Reply to  This Guy
1 month ago

If he gets even halfway to a Bjorn Seeliger underwater, the rest of the World Records are going down.

Caeleb Remel Cultist
1 month ago

comment image

AJThomas
Reply to  Caeleb Remel Cultist
1 month ago

Durden didn’t make the staff because he isn’t well liked. I have no idea why, but that seems obvious.

UmWhat
Reply to  AJThomas
1 month ago

You literally have no idea what you’re talking about. At all.

Coach Cwik
1 month ago

This answers a lot of questions about the Ohio State program.

Who
Reply to  Coach Cwik
1 month ago

Like what?

Pac-6
Reply to  Coach Cwik
1 month ago

Matt is his primary coach. Hunter is sticking with the coach and training that has worked for him.

OhioSwimmer
Reply to  Coach Cwik
1 month ago

are there issues behind the scenes? it seems like they are moving 100% in right direction in terms of moving up nationally!

Scotty P
Reply to  OhioSwimmer
1 month ago

Durden is making an exception and Hunter is following Matt. I think it’s one of those things where we can overthink it but at the end of the day it is what it is.

SWIM DOG
1 month ago

Thought Durden had a rule about only allowing Cal grads to train as pros there

Jojorab
Reply to  SWIM DOG
1 month ago

Rules in Cal? Lol

Mr Piano
Reply to  SWIM DOG
1 month ago

Yeah but he’s a two time national champion and a world record holder who beat his best backstroker.

Teri
Reply to  Mr Piano
1 month ago

2 national titles? Not in the NCAA I don’t believe

New Bear Fan
Reply to  Teri
1 month ago

See US World Trials. 50/100 Back titles.

Teri
Reply to  New Bear Fan
1 month ago

Huh didn’t know world trials was a meet the NCAA hosted… not trying to be a smart ass, generally was asking a question; thought we used “American champion” for this situation

Teri
Reply to  Teri
1 month ago

*genuinely

Mr Piano
Reply to  Teri
1 month ago

World Trials > NCAA

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Mr Piano
1 month ago

Except for all the people who skipped it.

fairisfair
Reply to  SWIM DOG
1 month ago

Improvise, adapt, and overcome! That’s what make good leaders great…

Bear Alum
Reply to  SWIM DOG
1 month ago

That generally has been the rule, but without knowing the negotiation process its hard to guess the reason this is the exception. Bowe could have told Durden, I’m in, but only if Hunter can train here and Durds was willing to make an exception so that the new WR holder could train next to the former WR holder and a Tuesday night backstroke practice looks like the finals at the US Open.

duhh
Reply to  Bear Alum
1 month ago

it’s hilarious to think Dave needed to be convinced to take Hunter – he hired Bowe BECAUSE of Hunter, Bowe spent a total of ZERO time convincing Dave

Swammer
1 month ago

Good move. Cal only allows alumni into the pro group normally but leave it to the magic man to find a way in.

oxyswim
1 month ago

Hunter should pursue a sunblock sponsorship with his moving to California. The dude doesn’t look like he’s built for the sun.

Shaddy419
1 month ago

Bringing the magic to Cal

Bull
1 month ago

Anything else going on at Cal?

Hoffer>
Reply to  Bull
1 month ago

Surely everything is ok with the womens team

Ghost
Reply to  Hoffer>
1 month ago

Wonder if Maggie McNeil is rethinking her choice for grad school?

James Beam
Reply to  Hoffer>
1 month ago

Surely you can’t be serious. And Don’t Call Me Shirley.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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