Torri Huske Returns to Long Course as Decorated International Performer

Torri Huske -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Torri Huske Returns to Long Course as Decorated International Performer

The last time Torri Huske competed in an official long course meet, she generated a career-defining performance. Huske had debuted at the Olympics with a fourth-place finish in the 100 butterfly and by helping the U.S. women to silver in the 400 medley relay, and her freshman campaign at Stanford was solid, highlighted by runnerup national finishes in the 200-yard IM and 100-yard fly. But Huske captured six medals at the World Championships, including a dominant gold-medal swim in the 100 fly.

The field in Huske’s signature event was thinned out from the Olympics, with both gold medalist Maggie Mac Neil and bronze medalist Emma McKeon absent, but an expected showdown with silver medalist Zhang Yufei never materialized as Huske won by a half-second, threatening the world record before finishing in an American-record time of 55.64.

Strong butterfly legs on the U.S. mixed 400 medley relay and women’s 400 medley relay helped secure gold medals, but Huske’s most surprising performance was her bronze medal in the 100 freestyle, her time of 52.92 making her the third-fastest American in history. Entering the summer, Huske was not expected to be the headliner among Americans in the sprint freestyle races, but with Simone Manuel taking the year off and Abbey Weitzeil missing the Worlds team, Huske and fellow teenager Claire Curzan ended up in centerpiece roles, which both fulfilled admirably.

How will she follow that up? It is now the pre-Olympic year, and with Huske scheduled for her first meet since the NCAA Championships at this week’s TYR Pro Swim Series in Mission Viejo, Calif., we will begin to get a sense of her form leading into next month’s U.S. Nationals and the World Championships in July. Huske is set to race the 100 free and 50 backstroke Thursday and the 200 free and 50 fly Friday before a potential 100 fly-200 IM-50 free triple IM Saturday.

Torri Huske, Kate Douglass, Claire Curzan and Erika Brown of United States of America show the bronze medals of the 4x100m Freestyle Relay Women Final during the FINA Swimming Short Course World Championships at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre in Melbourne, Australia, December 13th, 2022. Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Erika Brown, Claire Curzan, Torri Huske & Kate Douglass took silver in the 400 freestyle relay at the 2022 Short Course World Championships — Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

This week’s 100 free is missing a few key American pieces, such as World Championships relay swimmers Erika Brown and Kate Douglass, but Weitzeil and Manuel will both be racing alongside the Stanford trio of Huske, Curzan and Taylor Ruck. Weitzeil has gotten off to a hot start in 2023, with a season-best time of 53.36 that is less than four tenths off her lifetime best (52.99), so it will be interesting to see this resurgent veteran face off against last year’s two primary 100 freestylers, with a collective goal of an improved American women’s squad in the 400 free relay.

It will certainly interesting to see how much speed Huske can produce in the 100 fly, an event where her former Stanford teammate Regan Smith owns the country’s top time in 2023 by almost two seconds at 56.60. Anything under 57 would be tremendous right now for Huske, but a 57-low would be just fine as she prepares to meet Mac Neil and the rest of the world’s best 100 fly specialists in a fully-loaded field at Worlds. Huske did finish second behind Mac Neil in the 100 fly at the Short Course World Championships in December and third behind Douglass and Mac Neil in a magnificent 100-yard fly matchup at the NCAA Championships, but long course is a different beast.

Finally, it will be worth watching to see if Huske swims finals of either the 200 free or 200 IM, both events where she has capabilities of big long course swims. At NCAAs, her 200-yard free relay leadoff of 1:42.28 would have been quick enough to win the national title in the individual event, and her time of 1:50.06 in the 200-yard IM broke the existing American and NCAA records, although she was well behind the astonishing 1:48.37 that Douglass swam to win the event. Neither of these races have been a central focus for Huske in long course, at least since she finished fourth in the 200 IM at the 2021 Olympic Trials, but there’s definite potential if she chooses to focus on either.

Now 20, Huske took on a more significant role for the American women last summer and performed capably. The Mission Viejo meet will be her first tune-up in an attempt to repeat that success in 2023.

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