By coming so close to winning an individual medal, then earning a second-place silver on a relay team, Torri Huske’s rated her recent swimming experience at the Summer Olympic Games as a success for the 2021 Yorktown High School graduate.
“It was all a really good learning experience, and I took a lot away from the Games, like needing to work on the little things,” Huske said. “The swimming was different that anything I had been to before because it was spread out over nine or 10 days. I’m very thankful for what I got to do.”
At age 18, Huske was one of the Game’s youngest competitors on the U.S. women’s swimming team.
The biggest Olympic race for Huske was the women’s 100-meter butterfly, where she was the fastest qualifier for the U.S. team and finished fourth in the Game’s in 55.73. That was just 0.01 seconds out of third and earning a bronze medal, and also so close to a gold. The winning time was 55.45.
“Being so close to the gold like that was a little disappointing,” Huske said.
Huske’s silver medal came in the women’s 4×100 medley relay. She swam the third butterfly leg, with the U.S. swimming 3:51.73, falling fractions short of the gold to Australia (3:51.6).
The Arlington resident also was a member of the fifth-place 4×100 mixed-gender relay. She swam the third butterfly leg of a foursome that included Caeleb Dressel and Ryan Murphy. Dressel won five gold medals at the Games and Murphy was another big winner.
“They were so nice and it was fun to swim on a relay with them,” Huske said. “I was nervous, though, because there were a lot of waves in that race and that made it harder.”
With her competition completed, Huske arrived back home in Arlington from Tokyo after 10 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 2. To her surprise, there was a big welcoming crowd in the parking lot of Glebe Elementary School near her family’s home. The gathering, arranged by the Arlington Aquatic Club, included a large American flag hanging between two fire trucks.
“That was such a show of support and a magical and special night for Torri,” said Huske’s father, Jim. “Even her second-grade teacher was there, and so many others.”
Huske’s two local coaches are Torey Ortmayer of Yorktown and Evan Stiles with the Arlington Aquatic Club, where she became a member at age 5. They encouraged Huske by providing positive tips via cellphone texts and conversations. Neither was permitted to attend the Olympics because of COVID restrictions.
“Torri raced her heart out and went after it,” said Stiles, also a high-school coach for 22 years at Bishop O’Connell and is now the head coach of St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School in Alexandria. “I think she really learned a lot at the Games in all aspects of big competitions. She can put all of that in her memory bank, and she will be better because of it.”
Ortmayer also believes the Olympic experience will prepare Huske will for the 2024 Summer Games in Paris.
“It was enjoyable watching how Torri competed against top competition and showing what she is capable of,” Ortmayer said. “She faced the best at their very best and was introduced to swimming against professional women swimmers.”
Huske said just learning about the routine of the Olympics will help her if she qualifies for future games. Now she’s looking forward to some down time from swimming for a couple of weeks.
“I lived out of a suitcase for a month. Now I just want to get everything unpacked and in the right places,” she said.
She won’t be unpacked for long.
Next, Huske is looking forward to beginning her college career where she will swim for Stanford University. She leaves for the California school early next month.
At Yorktown, Huske, a swimmer since age 2, never lost an individual high-school race, winning multiple individual championships in district, region and state meets, and set national high-school records. This past winter she helped the Yorktown girls win the Class 6 state title.
She also has been one of the Arlington Aquatic Club’s most notable swimmers and winners of big races, is a multi-time USA Swimming Scholastic All-American and a five-time World Junior champion, along with receiving many other honors and winning many other significant races.
“Torri bought into what we asked her to do here, and I listened and bought into what she wanted us to do for her,” Stiles said.
In June, Huske received the top girls swimming high-school award from the Better Sports Club of Arlington.