U.S. International Team Trials: Torri Huske Fights Through COVID to Nail Down 100 Fly Win; Claire Curzan Shines Again (VIDEO)


U.S. International Team Trials: Torri Huske Fights Through COVID to Nail Down 100 Fly Win; Claire Curzan Shines, Too

When the entry lists for the USA Swimming International Team Trials were released, eyes darted to the tantalizing lineup for the women’s 100-meter butterfly. At the top of event’s entry list were four well-known names, all with elite credentials and podium potential at this summer’s World Championships. Yet, only half would qualify to represent the United States in Budapest.

Torri Huske and Claire Curzan were the two.

Replicating their finish in the 100 freestyle on the opening night of action at the Greensboro Aquatic Center, Huske and Curzan easily beat the field for a gold-silver showing in the 100 butterfly while delivering the top-two times in the world for 2022. Huske got to the wall in 56.28, with Curzan a shade behind in 56.35. Well back in third and fourth were Kelsi Dahlia (57.58) and Kate Douglass (58.14).

Although an argument can be made for the still-to-come 100 backstroke as the premier showdown of the women’s meet, the 100 butterfly was also a contender for that status. While Huske and Curzan were 2020 Olympians in Tokyo, with Huske established as the American-record holder, Dahlia was a 2016 Olympian and veteran of Team USA battles. As for Douglass, she recently led Virginia to a second consecutive NCAA team crown and broke the American record in the 100-yard butterfly. Simply, the event was loaded and a reflection of the United States’ depth, which is unparalleled on the world stage.

But instead of a four-way showdown for the trips to Hungary in June, Huske and Curzan engaged in their latest two-woman clash. In Huske and Curzan, the United States possesses a pair of multi-event stars with the ability to lead Team USA for years to come – along with Regan Smith, whose range also spans multiple strokes. Through the first three days of the meet, Huske and Curzan have tangled three times, resulting in three one-two finishes. While Huske has won the 100 free and 100 fly, Curzan edged Huske in the 50 fly. On the final day of the competition, they’ll see each other again, this time in the 50 freestyle.

In their 100 fly duel, Curzan shot to the lead with an opening split of 26.24, which handed her a narrow lead of .16. Over the back half of the race, Huske was quick enough to erase that deficit and pull ahead at the touch. A few weeks ago, there were questions concerning what would unfold at the World Champs Trials, as Huske battled a bout of COVID.

“It was kind of up and down,” she said of her preparation. “I got COVID a week after NCAAs, but it was kind of good in a way. It allowed me to get some rest and I turned it around and made it into something good. I was confident in my coaching and training.”

At the World Champs, Huske and Curzan will be expected to challenge for gold in the 100 fly, especially with the event featuring a shift in personnel. Olympic and reigning world champion Maggie Mac Neil has opted to bypass individual events in Budapest, while Australian Emma McKeon, the bronze medalist at the Olympics, is skipping Worlds altogether, her focus instead on the Commonwealth Games.

Curzan and Huske, then, will face their biggest challenges in Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom, the 2016 Olympic champ, and China’s Zhang Yufei, who was the silver medalist in Tokyo. Sjostrom should be sharper this summer than last, when she was still on the mend from a broken elbow. Meanwhile, her countrywoman, Louise Hansson, is lurking as a medal contender.

“I’ve been working a lot on my back-half speed lately, so I was trying to take it out nice and relaxed and come back hard,” Huske said. “It was kind of nice the first day knowing I had a spot and it took the pressure off. The 100 fly is my favorite event and the one I care most about. I am emotionally attached to that event. I saw the board and was relieved.”


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