• Thu. Aug 11th, 2022

Torri Huske’s world championships put her in elite company

ByLinda W. Smith

Jun 27, 2022

Torri Huske’s world championships put her in elite company

At the end of the eight days in Budapest, Torri Huske admitted she felt the strain.

Four individual events and four relays will do it. Carrying around all those medals really starts to tire your back after a while. Not to mention all those extra steps on the podium and then the post-medal procession over the bridge.

It seemed Huske, who was only 19, was in the water just about every session. With the way she swims, that meant she was never far from a medal stand.

“Yeah, I’m pretty tired,” Huske said Saturday. “I really felt it in the first half of the race too and I felt like it wasn’t supposed to happen, but like I had so much faith in the team. I knew I wasn’t swimming just for me, so I did my best and it was a lot easier to know who I was swimming for, so I think that helped me get through the race.

Almost under the radar, what Huske achieved at the 2022 FINA World Championships has earned him a place in the pantheon of American swimming achievement. What she put together was a performance the likes of which American swimming has rarely seen.

Huske joins a select club of American women to win six or more Worlds medals. This group :

  • Missy Franklin, 2013 Barcelona: Gold (200 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 200 backstroke, 400 freestyle relay, 800 freestyle relay, 400 medley relay)
  • Katie Ledecky, 2017 Budapest: Gold (400 freestyle, 800 freestyle, 1500 freestyle, 400 freestyle relay, 800 freestyle relay); silver (200 free)
  • Simone Manuel, 2017 Budapest: Gold (100 freestyle, 400 freestyle relay, 400 medley relay, 400 mixed medley relay), bronze (50 freestyle)
  • Simone Manuel, 2019 Gwangju: Gold (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 400 medley relay, 400 mixed freestyle relay); silver (400 freestyle relay, 800 freestyle relay, 400 mixed medley relay)
  • Torri Huske, 2022 Budapest: Gold (100 butterfly, 400 medley relay, 400 mixed medley relay); bronze (100 freestyle, 400 freestyle, 400 mixed freestyle)

It’s not bad company. It obviously skews recent – you’d bet the likes of jenny thompson and Natalie Coughlin would be there if the range of mixed relays had been available.

A few things stand out about Huske. She didn’t collect as much gold as the others in the club. But Manuel and Ledecky got their medals with nothing but freestyle. Huske’s feat is more akin to Franklin in 2013, himself in a band with Michael Phelps, being the quintessential one-shot practitioner (return for Franklin, steal for Phelps) while possessing the versatile ability to challenge in freestyle. Thompson’s fly/free hybrid might be the best comparison for Huske’s way forward; she is the first American to medal in the 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle at the same worlds since Thompson in 2003.

Torri Huske; Photo courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Huske is unquestionably the best butterfly in America. She set American records in the 50 butterfly and 100 butterfly. The first, a 25.38, broke a triple tie with Kelsi Dahlia instead of the record by a tenth of a second, although Huske finished sixth. The 100 fly AR was 55.64. According to FINA ranking points, it was the second-best women’s race in the competition, behind only the US 800 freestyle relay. She also set a best time in the 100 freestyle, just the fourth American to break 53 seconds.

“It’s really amazing,” Huske said after the 100 butterfly. “I really don’t know how to put it into words because it’s kind of surreal. I feel like I haven’t really processed it yet. I’m just glad I had a better time more than the place. In the end, I just want to see that I improve.

What makes Huske’s week in Budapest so alluring is that it wasn’t perfect. She won all of those medals, but also finished sixth in the 50 butterfly and 50 freestyle. There are improvements there, and the sophomore at Stanford knows it.

All of this comes with caveats – as does the US performance by and large. The 100m butterfly gold medal, for example, came without the reigning Olympic champion Maggie McNeil. You want to bet Sarah Sjostrom will have a say in Paris in two years. The 100 freestyle, in which Huske won bronze, was without Olympic gold (Emma McKeon) and money (Siobhan Haughey) medalists. (However, it’s not all headwinds: At some point, the 28-year-old Sjostrom could loosen his grip on the sprint events, and Huske looks well-positioned to fill that void.)

When the Paris Games arrive, the field will be more crowded. The competition to escape the American trials will be tougher. But for now, let this accomplishment represent what it is: one of the best competitions ever organized by an American. The fact that this is a 19-year-old girl who has just hit the wave of her immense talent is even more gratifying.

“It means a lot,” Huske said after winning gold in the women’s medley relay. “I think it comes down to what Regan (Smith) said. It’s the team. I couldn’t have done it without them and they are such an amazing group of women and men. I am very lucky to be part of this team. »

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