Cardinal women make a splash amid 2022 World Championships

June 21, 2022, 2:38 p.m.

Stanford athletes added four medals to their ongoing hardware collection to close out days two and three of the 2022 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Highlights from events included speedy swims from rising sophomores Torri Huske and Regan Smith, incoming freshman Claire Curzan and Katie Ledecky ’20.

So far this meet, Cardinal affiliated swimmers have won four golds, one silver and two bronzes.

Notably absent from this year’s World Championships is rising sophomore Andrei Minakov, who represents Russia on the international stage. The International Swimming Federation (FINA) banned swimmers from Russia and Belarus from competing at the world championships because of the countries’ involvement in the ongoing war in Ukraine. “FINA maintains its strongest condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” they wrote in a March press release. Minakov placed fourth in the 100-meter butterfly at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. He remained in California this year and is currently training with Stanford. 

Gold for Huske

At the 2020 Olympics, Torri Huske finished fourth in the women’s 100-meter butterfly with a time of 55.73 — 0.01 seconds shy of a medal. She had a similar fate at the 2021 World Short Course Championships, taking fourth place in the event and narrowly missing out on a podium finish.

On Sunday, Huske broke this pattern to win her first 100 fly world title with a time of 55.64, a new record for American swimmers. Huske set the old record of 55.66 at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials. Her swim on Sunday was only 0.16 seconds off Sarah Sjostrom’s current world record time of 55.48 seconds, making Huske the fourth-fastest woman in the history of the women’s 100-meter butterfly. 

“It’s really amazing, I don’t really know how to put it into words because it’s kind of surreal,” Huske said to USA Swimming after the race. “I feel like I haven’t really processed it yet. I’m just happy that I went a best time, more than anything, because at the end of the day I just want to see that I’m improving.”

With her win, Huske takes her second medal of this meet. On Saturday, she helped Team USA win bronze in the 4×100 freestyle relay, leading off with a time of 52.96, which made her the third-fastest American woman in the history of the 100-meter freestyle.

Smith and Curzan go 1-3

Smith finished first in the women’s 100-meter backstroke on Monday. She recorded a time of 57.65 in the semifinal round on the previous day, earning the top qualifying spot for the final. Her time was 0.2 seconds short of Kaylee McKeown’s world record.

Smith was slightly slower in the finals, clocking a 58.22. However, it was still fast enough to clinch gold by 0.18 seconds. 

“I always kind of have [the world record] in the back of my mind and I was really pleased with my swim [on Sunday] being super close to it and really close to my best time,” Smith told USA Swimming after her win. “Of course I am a little bit bummed with my swim tonight, but again, tonight’s about place, it’s not about time, so I am really pleased overall.” Smith’s win marks her first major international title in the 100-meter backstroke.

Finishing behind Smith was Curzan, who touched the wall third with a time of 58.67. Curzan claimed bronze in her first podium finish at a major international meet. 

“I have looked up to [Smith] for as long as I can remember, and she has been a backstroke icon for so long so it’s kind of crazy for me to think about,” Curzan said to USA Swimming of her USA and future Stanford teammate, Smith.

Curzan previously finished fifth in the women’s 100-meter butterfly with a time of 56.74, and recorded a split of 52.71 to help Team USA earn bronze in the 4×100 freestyle relay.

Ledecky Dominates

Katie Ledecky won the women’s 1500-meter freestyle with a time of 15:30.15, finishing a staggering 14.14 seconds ahead of her competition. Ledecky’s swim was the sixth fastest performance in the event’s history, trailing behind five of her other performances. This win adds onto her near-decade long dominance in this event. She previously won the World title for the 1500-meter freestyle at the 2013, 2015 and 2017 championship meets. She withdrew from the 2019 championships due to illness.

With 13 individual world championship titles, Ledecky is now just two wins shy of tying Michael Phelps for most individual world titles in the history of the meet. Ledecky also won the 400-meter freestyle on Saturday.

Other Stanford Contributors

Taylor Ruck ’22 competed in the 100-meter backstroke on Sunday for Canada and did not advance to the semi-finals. She placed 17th in the preliminary heats with a time of 1:01.14. 

She bounced back on Monday, finishing sixth in the 200-meter freestyle semifinals with a time of 1:56.80 and securing a spot in the finals.

Yanyan Li is a high schooler writing as part of the Daily's Summer Journalism Workshop. Contact them at workshop 'at'

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