Hunter Armstrong is a talented swimmer who has faced many challenges outside the pool. In June 2023, his coach Matt Bowe left for Michigan, which was hard for Armstrong. A month later, his grandfather passed away. In February, just before the 2024 Worlds, his girlfriend broke up with him.

Armstrong shared, “After I got back from Worlds, I was missing a lot of practices. I would sleep – I think the most I slept during that little time period was 20 hours – but I’d average 16 to 18. I didn’t leave my bed really. I maybe would go to practice, but I’d wake up and DoorDash food and stay in my room and try to watch movies, because that was really the only thing that I knew could distract me.”

With the support of his friends, coaches, and teammates, Armstrong qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games in the 100-meter backstroke and the 100-meter freestyle relay team. He explained, “My coaches and teammates noticed that. I wasn’t going to tell them that I got broken up with. I’m very much of the handle your own business (mindset). But it became clear that I wasn’t able to handle it anymore. And so my friends and teammates and my coaches stepped in and they really helped me get back to it. So that’s why it was such an accomplishment for me to make the (Olympic) team because for five months, I maybe trained two of them.”

Armstrong, also known as the “Magic Man,” has been into magic since he was a kid and hopes to expand his skills beyond card tricks. He also loves musical theatre and acted in high school plays. He dreams of pursuing acting after his swimming career, and has even befriended Broadway actor Jordan Litz.

Despite his many interests, Armstrong’s struggles over the past year were tough. He said, “I lost a lot of people that I loved and that heartbreak, I’ve never experienced anything like it. That was my first real relationship. I had a proposal planned out, I was already preordering the ring. Like, I was certain that I was going to marry this girl, and I quickly watched it all crumble.”

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Realizing he was in a rut after a weightlifting injury, Armstrong received help from his teammates, coaches, and the Team USA sports psychiatry team. His coach David Durden became a key person he could talk to, while coach David Marsh helped him find comfort in his faith. His friend and teammate Jack Alexy supported him through practices.

Armstrong is grateful for his challenges, saying, “It truly made me a better person. Hindsight is always 20/20, but I learned and grew so much from that experience that I would do it again.”

As a distinguished swimmer with multiple medals, Armstrong overcame a slip off the starting block during the Olympic Trials to secure his spot for Paris. He aims to stay consistent in his training, saying, “Even going into trials, I still wasn’t consistent with my practice schedule. I was still dealing with that stuff. I truly wasn’t over her and feeling good mentally until like a week out from trials. … So that’s my main job is to just do everything that I can that I should have been doing the whole year within this month before the Olympics, just to get a little bit more of an edge.”

After the Paris Games, Armstrong will return to Ohio State to finish his degree and help coach the Buckeyes. He’s also bought a house in Columbus, marking a new chapter in his life.