10 to watch: At 18, Torri Huske already holds the US record with 100 flies and is just starting

ARLINGTON, Va. – Torri Huske is a young woman in a hurry. It is reasonable; is a swimmer, one of the bright young stars of the US Olympic team, a biracial athlete in a predominantly white sport, so fast that he did not break the US 100m butterfly record only once in last month’s swimming tests, he did two times.

“Throw and die”, she calls her strategy, which means that she comes out in the first 50 meters and hopes that there is enough left for the last 50. It is actually part of the game, part of hope – the mechanisms of an imaginative mind. has just graduated from high school and is heading to Stanford, one of 11 teenagers to be on the U.S. swimming team at the Tokyo Olympics.

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Minutes before Huske – the only child of a Chinese-American immigrant mother and American father – was about to introduce herself to the world of sports in the greatest possible way, setting her original American record on the first night of her first Olympic test. in the USA. , was in a very different hurry.

As her other 100 butterfly semifinals deliberately fell on the pool deck in Omaha, Nebraska, Huske broke the line to reach her lane as fast as she could. She was not rude. It was simple, good, fast.

She pulled out her shoes and sweat and threw them in a basket from the starting squares before most of her competitors had reached their lane. It had to be another American record, this one to throw a warm-up to reveal a swimsuit.

What is the rush for?

“People are like, ‘You take off your clothes so fast,'” Huske said in an interview a few days later at his home in the suburbs of North Virginia, Washington, DC. “I feel anxious when I have my clothes behind the blocks because I want to I have time to spread a little. I move so fast because I want to stretch and focus.

“If I take off my clothes more slowly, it’s another thing to worry about, so I try to do it as quickly as possible. I like to stand on the blocks and get into the mentality. I’m a bit relaxed, but at the same time in my mind. I do not know if this makes sense, but yes, I do. “

Her longtime coach, Evan Stiles of the Arlington Aquatic Club, watched the stands as his student turned the starting squares, warning them of what was to come when the water actually hit.

“He just wanted to go up there and fight,” he said. “She did not follow the order. You have to want it. You have to be sure. You just do not want to be the rule. She is the same. “

Well here it is: Less than a minute after Huske and the other seven women in the Olympic diving pool semifinals hit the wall at a new US record of 55.78 seconds, breaking Dana Vollmer’s 55 mark. 98 seconds, which he set by winning the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

Is Huske divorcing? The first 50 was a fast 25.96 seconds. The second 50 was 29.82. Time for a new slogan? Fly – and it thrives?

The next night was the final in the 100 fly. This time, Huske was not loaded onto the pool deck as a student. reached the star, the American record holder, the favorite. This is too much for a young swimmer to digest.

“I was so focused on the finals that I set the American record last night,” Huske said, “because it does not matter if you set the American record and then you do not make the team. “I knew it was still a possibility, because the girls there are so fast and so competitive.”

So what happened? Swim the first 50 on fuel 25.65 seconds. He swam the second 50 on 30.01. Add to that, the fastest time in the world this year, another American record, breaking his own 24 hours earlier: 55.66 seconds, just 0.18 seconds behind Sweden’s world record holder Sarah Sjostrom, who won the gold medal at at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Finding a pool for training during the pandemic

Huske had created the Olympic team. As he soaked in the applause of the crowd as he accepted the medal and met with the press, everything seemed so far from just 15 months earlier, when the then junior high school was trying to find a pool to swim in as the pandemic struck and people closed in March. of 2020.

In early April 2020, Tori Jim’s father contacted a pool company he knew about a pool that recently opened in Gainesville, Virginia, nearly an hour’s drive from Huskes’s Arlington home. It was an oval pool, 42 feet long, very close to the standards of the elite swimmer, so Tori tied a belt in a belt around her waist and swam in place as Styles or her father held on tight to end of the cord the pool deck behind it.

“He did this for six weeks,” said Jim Huske.

The man who had the pool also had a drone. He knew a neighbor had a larger pool, but he was not sure if it was still open. So he flew his drone over the neighborhood and actually spotted water in this larger pool. He drove to his neighbor’s house, explained that an Olympic candidate needed more space to train, and soon Tori was swimming in a 55-foot pool.

During the pandemic in North Virginia, Torri Huske trained in a 42-foot-long oval pool.  The pool owner found another one in the neighborhood that was a little bigger for Huske to use.

“I was horrified when all the pools were closed for the first time,” he said, “but when the Olympics were postponed and I knew we had another year, it was a relief. I knew the time would be right for me. “

Pandemic training time has helped young swimmers like Huske mature and become stronger. But to say he certainly wouldn’t make the Olympic team if the 2020 Games took place would not be accurate, Stiles said. She won the 100 butterfly at the US Open in December 2019, so she was definitely already on her way.

A normal toddler who worked hard

Jim and Ying Husk should have known that their daughter would be a swimmer. Two days before Tori was born on December 7, 2002, Ying swam a mile. “Swimming to stay in shape during my pregnancy,” she said. “I was so big that day. Tori was definitely swimming with me. “

Jim and Ging met several years earlier in an AOL chat room with a transport engineer, a government official.

Ying was born and raised in Guangzhou, China, where her parents worked at a local university. When she was seven, Ying and her family moved to the remote countryside during the Mao Cultural Revolution, where Ying’s job was to fetch water from the river for her family.

When Ying and her family returned to Guangzhou, she went to college at 16, became an architect, and eventually followed her brother to the United States, first to Ohio and then to Virginia Tech. He now works in IT for the Navy. Jim, a Chicago suburb, is a counselor.

The Huskes introduced Torri to a variety of sports as a child. At first, he did not fall in love with swimming. If she was not known for her speed then, she must have been known for her early swimwear.

“I would wear a uniform to practice when I was 5 or 6 years old,” Torri said. “I must have looked very stupid. I was very cold all the time. Not many people do it because it is not really what you should do. I remember my first swimming encounter, I tried to put on my uniform and it was like, ‘You can’t do this’ and they made me change.

Tori was definitely not a miracle as a child. “He was not the fastest kid on the team,” Stiles said. “He was a normal toddler who got into swimming and worked hard and developed through our program. It was not like making huge yards. He swam three times a week for an hour. “

Jim Huske sees it as a blessing for a young athlete. “She was never amazing as a child,” he said. “He learned how to lose at a young age.”

It was not long before the world of swimming began to take notice of the young girl who had grown to 5-8 and did everything quickly. Just five months ago, for example, swimming at Yorktown High broke not one but two national high school records in the Virginia State Championship Class 6. These races are just 25 minutes away.

After winning the 100 female butterflies in tests, Torri Huske says she tried not to get too emotional "because it would be very difficult the next morning.  You are deflated after the relief and excitement you make the team.

So she was there last month in Omaha for the test, having made the Olympic team on the second night of the week, with many events ahead of her, all the chances to qualify for more games in Tokyo. He came close to 50 freestyle (third) and 200 individual medley (fourth), but failed to make it to another individual event.

“It was very difficult since I made the team in the 100 fly,” he said. “I was trying not to get up very emotionally just because it would be very difficult the next morning. You are deflated after the relief and excitement you make the team. “

Huske, an old soul who paints acrylics and makes origami in her spare time, prides herself on controlling her emotions. “I try not to get up too much,” he said. “I’m really trying to tame my emotions, to control them.”

But the pressure of the US Olympics is nothing more than even the Olympics themselves.

“I put my phone on Do Not Disturb during the meeting because it was too much,” he said. “After the 100 fly final, after I did the team, I probably had over 300 messages and I was just, ‘I can’t do it now.’ I just put my phone away. I went back to some of my friends, but for the most part I just hung up my phone because it was so overwhelming. ”

Although the 100-butterfly medal winner is her only solo event in Tokyo, Huske is expected to be in the US women’s 4×100 relay team, which will be preferred to win the gold medal and could added to the American teams for the Medley mixed relay and the women’s 4×100 free relay.

These decisions will be made soon enough. As the hours go by and the games approach, there is no way we know for sure what Torri Huske will do in the pool. But we know who will be the first swimmer to stand in her lane, warming up and playing, ready to compete.

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