World Championships: Torri Huske Dominates 100 Fly for First World Title; Clips American Record

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Torri Huske -- Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

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World Championships: Torri Huske Dominates 100 Fly for First World Title; Clips American Record

One year ago in her Olympic debut, Torri Huske missed the podium in the 100 butterfly by just one hundredth. At this year’s World Championships in Budapest, Olympic gold medalist Maggie Mac Neil and bronze medalist Emma McKeon were absent from the field while Huske entered with the fastest time in the world, so the 19-year-old American entered with a strong shot at reaching the podium, with Chinese Olympic silver medalist Zhang Yufei looking like the closest competitor.

But throughout the three rounds in Budapest, Huske was on top every time. No one in the field could match her opening burst, and no one had the firepower to close the gap. In the final, Huske was out in 25.72, three tenths under world-record pace and ahead of Zhang, and a brilliant underwater kickout off the turn left her almost a bodylength in front. In the lane next to Huske, France’s Marie Wattel tried to close the gap, but Huske remained a half-second ahead.

Huske touched in 55.64, clipping her own American record of 55.66 set at last year’s Olympic Trials. Huske remained the fourth-fastest performer in history behind Sarah Sjostrom, Mac Neil and Zhang. Wattel touched second in 56.14, the second-fastest time in the world this year, while Zhang earned bronze in 56.41.

“I’m really happy,” Huske said in a post-race interview with NBC Sports. “I’m just so thankful for my support system, my coaches, my family, my friends and my teammates for pushing me every day. It’s not something you do alone, so I’m just really lucky to have all these people in my life.”

Sweden’s Louise Hansson just missed the podium with her fourth-place mark of 56.48, while Huske’s American teammate Claire Curzan, who entered the meet ranked second in the world, ended up fifth in 56.74.

This year was one of transition for Huske, who moved from her home in Arlington, Va., to begin college at Stanford. Her first NCAA Championships was an up-and-down affair as Huske finished second in the 200-yard IM and 100-yard fly before missing the championship heat of the 100-yard free, and then shortly after NCAAs, Huske was diagnosed with COVID-19. With just over a month in between the college championships and the all-important U.S. International Team Trials, Huske’s ability to qualify for the World Championships was in jeopardy, but she was brilliant in late April in Greensboro, N.C., winning the 100 free, 100 fly and 50 free while placing second behind Curzan in the 50 fly.

In two days of racing so far at the World Championships, Huske already has two medals, with a bronze in the 400 freestyle relay before her 100 fly gold. Leading off that relay squad, she swam a personal-best time of 52.96, which ranks third in the world for the 100 freestyle. Huske will have Monday off from racing, but she has a long week to go with an additional three individual events and three relays, and she could have 12 more swims for a total of 16 this week at Worlds.

For right now, Huske has a well-deserved world title to celebrate, the first major international gold of her career. “It’s really amazing,” Huske said, according to USA Swimming. “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 happy I went a best time more than the place. At the end of the day, I just want to see that I’m improving myself.”

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