Young Swimmers Navigate Swimming Through Friendship

By Zoe T.

Imagine stepping out onto the pool deck with the whole world watching. Your heart is beating a mile a minute as you step onto the block for the biggest race of your life. Three teenagers endured this pressure when they attended the 2021 Olympics Trials. Katie Grimes, Torri Huske, and Claire Curzan have gone through all the highs and lows of swimming, including not being able to swim during the pandemic as all the pools were shut down. When each teenager made Team USA, all their hard work and dedication made everything worth it. They were left speechless as they would have never expected this to happen to them. Throughout this journey, other swimmers have helped the young swimmers navigate the competition and form close relationships. Their early success in swimming will never be forgotten.

Remember her name, Katie Grimes. She is the youngest US Olympic swimmer since Amanda Beard made the team in 1996. The fifteen year old from the Sandpipers of Nevada swam alongside Katie Ledecky when she made it onto the Olympic team by beating 29 year old Haley Anderson in the 800-meter freestyle. During the preliminaries of 800-meter freestyle, Grimes placed 8th with a time of 8:31.73. Grimes came back the same night for the finals in the 800-meter freestyle in lane eight, the slowest seed in the heat. Even despite all the pressure as a teenager, she dropped an insane 11 seconds, boosting her up to second place, right behind Katie Ledecky and overtaking Haley Anderson by only 0.15 of a second. Grimes was quickly congratulated by Ledecky as they hopped out of the pool and signed the Olympic Team drum together. “I’m very honored. She’s taught me so much already. I used to think it was just cool that we had the same first name, but now we are going to be on the team together,” Grimes said in a press conference with Ledecky. Katie Ledecky helped the young swimmer through the competitive environment and allowed her to feel comfortable in this new experience. Also, Ledecky helped Grimes navigate through the award ceremony. At such a young age, Grimes has achieved what other swimmers devote their whole life to.

The new faces of American butterfly: Torri Huske and Claire Curzan. 18 year old
Victoria Torri Huske from Arlington Aquatic Club in Virginia set the new American record in
the 100-meter butterfly at the US Olympic Trials. Huske swam the preliminaries and was right
on her personal best time. On the other hand, during the semi-finals, Huske blasted a 55.78, breaking the American record. Later that next day, Huske swam the 100-meter butterfly in finals and dropped 0.12, setting the American record even faster. “It was just also overwhelming just because you’ve been working for so long and for it to finally happen was just an incredible moment,” Huske said about her experience in an interview with USA Today. Torri Huske and Claire Curzan were able to share their excitement as they navigated the competition together. The two are constantly striving to be better and push each other. Earlier in her career, Huske was awarded the Age Group of the Year Swammy Award for 15-16 in 2019. In high school, Huske set the National Public Highschool Record for the 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard individual medley. To further her career, Huske was ranked first recruit in the class of 2021 and has committed to Stanford University. Her future in the sport of swimming will be enjoyable to watch.

Claire Curzan had dreamed of becoming an Olympian since she was 11 and her dream came true at 16. Curzan from the TAC Titans in North Carolina came to the eye of the public when she broke the National Age Group Record in the 100-yard fly when she was 12. Recently, she swam the 100-meter butterfly, touching second to Huske. Curzan swam the Olympic Trials when she was 16 and only recently turned 17. Curzan swam the preliminaries and the semi-finals for the 100-meter butterfly and swam right around her best times. Seeding second after semifinals, Curzan came back for finals and dropped almost a second off her morning swims, making the Olympic team. Together, the two teenagers, Huske and Curzan, beat 19 year old Kate Douglass and 27 year old Kelsi Dahlia by 0.13 and 0.37. “We’ve competed on a number of stages together, so I really think she brings out the best in me as a swimmer. I’m excited to go [to Tokyo] with her because I know it’s always a good race with her and I’m ready for it.” Curzan said about Huske in an interview with Director of Athletics, Todd Schuler. The two always have a good race together and continue to maintain a good connection. The close-knit friendship between Huske and Curzan motivated both swimmers to always do their best.

Even with less experience and still being in high school, Katie Grimes, Torri Huske, and
Claire Curzan have achieved success within their first Olympic trials. Their friendships in and
out of the water have pushed each swimmer and created life-long connections. Watch out for
these young swimmers and their success to come!

Student Bio

Zoe T.

2021 Summer Program

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