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Being an elite swimmer during the COVID-19 pandemic requires patience and the ability to adjust to uncertainty. For 80 days, 17-year-old Arlington resident Torri Huske had been away from a regulation-sized pool and has had to maintain her fitness in a family acquaintance’s pool about an hour from her home. Virginia only recently reopened swimming pools for exercise.
This was not the summer that Huske, one of the top junior swimmers in the country and an Olympic hopeful, had envisioned.
“When they closed down the pools, initially I was really motivated,” she says. “I’d go on the bike and rower, 45 minutes each in the morning, again at night plus a weight workout, run hills, [exercise] ropes outside, hike with friends. I did that for a week or so, then I kinda got burnt out and demotivated. I feel like part of that was because I didn’t have a schedule, which is something I’ve always been used to.”
And although her competitive swimming schedule remains in flux as the country battles coronavirus outbreaks, Huske feels relieved knowing where she’ll be swimming next fall. The rising senior at Yorktown High School has verbally committed to swim at Stanford University, a three-time defending champion in Division I women’s swimming and diving.
Her official visit to the campus last October sealed the decision.
“It came down to two schools,” Huske says. “I did put a lot of thought into it, dwelled on it a lot, but I kinda just realized this is where I wanted to go … The team was really great when I met them. They were all really welcoming. [Women’s swimming director] Greg [Meehan] and [assistant coach] Tracy [Slusser], you could tell they really cared about their swimmers as people. Great coaches, a great team atmosphere, being able to see that first hand, that’s probably what pushed it over the edge.”
Among the swimmers she met there was D.C. native and Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky. Talking to Ledecky, who swam at Stanford before turning pro, gave Huske a glimpse into her own potential future.
“I feel like it’s a testament to their good coaching and how they’re able to help swimmers achieve greatness, and be the best as they can be, the best version of themselves,” she says. “It’s definitely encouraging, because you see the swimmers that go through that program get faster and improve a lot.”
Huske has qualified for six events at next summer’s Olympic Trials next summer (100-meter butterfly, 100-meter freestyle, 200-meter butterfly, 200-meter freestyle, 200-meter individual medley, and 50-meter freestyle) and beat professional swimmers to win the 100-meter butterfly at the U.S. Open in Atlanta last year.