TYR Pro Series San Antonio, Day Three Finals (Women’s Events): Torri Huske Just Misses American Record in 100 Butterfly

Torri Huske -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

TYR Pro Series San Antonio, Day Three Finals (Women’s Events): Torri Huske Just Misses American Record in 100 Butterfly

A collection of top American and international swimmers are racing in San Antonio this week at the final stop of this year’s TYR Pro Swim Series as they zero-in on upcoming Olympic selection meets and the Games in Paris. Women’s events held Friday evening included the 200 freestyle, 200 backstroke, 400 IM and 100 butterfly, with Olympic medalists Siobhan HaugheyKatie Ledecky and Regan Smith among the big names competing, but the top effort came later in the evening, courtesy of Torri Huske.

Huske just missed the Olympic podium in the 100 fly three years ago, but she came back to top the podium in the event at the 2022 World Championships. Now, she is clearly among the favorites for Olympic gold in the event, and Huske improved her standing as she nearly swam a best time against a competitive field in San Antonio. Two months out from Olympic Trials, Huske swam a time of 55.68 as she came from behind to knock off Gretchen Walsh for the win.

Women’s 200 Freestyle

The Friday evening session opened with a head-to-head showdown between two of the top 200 freestylers in the world, with Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey facing off against American Katie Ledecky. Haughey is the Olympic silver medalist in the 200 free, and she won the world title in the event earlier this year, while Ledecky was the 2016 Olympic champion in the event, although she has moved away from competing in the individual 200 on the international level in recent seasons.

Following her usual pattern, Haughey got off to a quick start, but Ledecky never let the former Michigan Wolverine and LSU Tiger get out of her sight. On the final length, Ledecky split 29.18 to close the gap on Haughey, but Haughey held on by just under a half-second. Haughey touched in 1:54.52, with Ledecky clocking 1:54.97.

Haughey’s time makes her the second-fastest swimmer in the world this year, behind only the 1:54.21 that Summer McIntosh clocked this week at the Canadian Open. Haughey actually surpassed her own winning time of 1:54.89 from the World Championships. Ledecky, meanwhile, moved to No. 4 globally behind McIntosh, Haughey and world-record holder Mollie O’Callaghan.

Behind the decorated duo at the top of the field, Anna Peplowski sat in third place the entire race and held on to finish in 1:56.99, a quarter-second ahead of New York Athletic Club’s Paige Madden (1:57.25). Peplowski, the runnerup in the 200-yard free at last month’s NCAA Championships, clipped her previous best time by three hundredths. Erin Gemmell was also under 1:58 with a fifth-place time of 1:57.98.


Women’s 200 Backstroke

In her 200 backstroke renaissance within the past year-and-a-half, Regan Smith has re-established herself as the top performer in the United States in the 200 back, with no swimmer in the world other than Kaylee McKeown capable of challenging Smith. The 22-year-old swam an exceptional time of 2:03.99 at last month’s Pro Series stop in Westmont, Ill., Smith’s fastest-ever performance in-season, and she followed that up with a solid result in San Antonio.

Smith was out ahead of the field by more than a second at the halfway point and under world-record pace with a split of 1:00.47. She slowed slightly after that, and the field closed the gap on the last length, but Smith got to the wall 1.78 seconds clear of the field in 2:05.46. Only Smith and McKeown have been quicker this year, and indeed, no other swimmers surpassed that mark last year either.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s Phoebe Bacon has posted a strong spring following a down year in 2023. Bacon was the NCAA champion in the 200-yard back last month, and she picked up second here in 2:07.24, four tenths clear of Claire Curzan (2:07.64), with Rhyan White fading to fourth (2:09.35) ahead of NC State training partner Kennedy Noble (2:09.44). Bacon and White won silver and bronze, respectively, in this event at the 2022 World Championships while Curzan swept gold medals in all three backstroke events at this year’s Worlds.

Women’s 400 IM

Two months ago, Israel’s Anastasia Gorbenko won her first medal at a global long course competition. In the 400 IM final, Gorbenko had the lead for most of the race before Great Britain’s Freya Colbert took over in the closing stages. Still, Gorbenko received the silver medal for a huge boost in her preparation for the Paris Olympics. Gorbenko took another step with a dominant performance in San Antonio Friday.

Gorbenko opened up a lead of more than two seconds by the halfway point before pulling away to win by more than five, surrendering ground on the field only on the breaststroke leg when up against Canadian veteran Sydney Pickrem. Gorbenko finished in 4:38.89, one-and-a-half seconds behind her season-best mark of 4:37.36 that ranks sixth in the world this year. Pickrem grabbed second in 4:44.16, while the University of Virginia’s Ella Nelson was third in 4:45.08.


Women’s 100 Butterfly

Torri Huske was well off her best times in 2023 as she fell to bronze in the 100 fly at the World Championships, but after a near-personal-best time in the 100 free Thursday, Huske came back and fired off a sizzling performance in her main event, coming extremely close to breaking her own American record in the event and finishing only two tenths off the world record.

Huske was racing against Gretchen Walsh, who destroyed the American and U.S. Open records in the 100-yard fly at last month’s NCAA Championships with a mark of 47.42, but Huske was able to keep up with Walsh’s signature early speed and come over the top down the stretch.

Walsh was out in 25.84, with Huske in 25.96 and both swimmers under world-record pace. Huske then finished in 29.72, quicker than she closed on the way to an American-record-setting, world-title-winning performance in 2022. She finished only four hundredths off her national mark (55.64) and two hundredths shy of her own U.S. Open record (55.66).

Walsh finished second in 56.14, knocking two tenths off her previous best time of 56.34 and moving into a tie for No. 10 all-time in the event. Huske’s time is the fastest in the world this year while Walsh sits just behind German world champion Angelina Kohler (56.11) for third in 2024. Third went to Claire Curzan (57.67) while Regan Smith was fourth (57.93), with both swimmers recording solid performances considering they had just raced in the 200 back. Walsh’s older sister Alex Walsh took fifth (57.95).

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