McHugh qualified for 2013 Summer Junior Nationals in the 200 breaststroke and 200 IM. She took gold in the 200 breast and 400 IM and third in the 200 IM at the 2014 Summer NCSA Juniors.
Penn State University
McHugh competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 400 IM (68th, 4:56.26) and the 200 IM (80th, 2:20.53). Collegiately, she saw action in six meets, swimming mostly freestyle, breaststroke and the IM.
McHugh swam in 10 meets for the Nittany Lions, including the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Championships, en route to two honorable mention All-America nods. She finished 10th in the mile in a school record 15:58.92 and 14th in the 400 IM (4:06.86) at NCAAs. Her 1000 free split (9:43.94) during the mile also was a school record. McHugh also swam in the 500 free at NCAAs (personal best 4:40.73).
The sophomore picked up the silver medal in the 400 IM at the Big Ten Championships with a personal best 4:06.27 to earn All-Big Ten second team honors.
McHugh was second in the 1650 freestyle at the NCAA Championships with a school record time of 15:36.27, making her the program’s first All-American since 2015. She also swam in 500 freestyle, winning the consolation finals with another school record (4:36.17) and finished 17th in the 400 IM prelims (4:07.52).
McHugh won the Big Ten title in the 1650 freestyle in a school record and Big Ten meet record 15:43.34 en route to first team All-Big Ten honors. The junior also was runner-up in the 400 IM (4:06.43) and snapped the school record in the 500 freestyle (4:38.44).
After having a breakout summer, McHugh carried that momentum into the NCAA season with her. At the 2019 NCAA Championships, McHugh touched 1st in the 1,650 (15:39.22), marking her first ever NCAA title. She also placed 10th in the 400 IM (4:05.78, new school record) and 18th in the 500 free (4:39.89). At the Big Ten Championships, McHugh won the 1650 free with a pool and meet record time of 15:43.34. She also was part of the 11th place 800 free relay.
2017 World University Games
McHugh earned silver in the 400 IM (4:40.22) and as part of the 4×200 freestyle relay team.
2018 U.S. National Championships
McHugh surprised many by winning the 400 IM with a personal best by more than five seconds (4:34.80) in the finals. The effort followed a PR of 4:39.67 in the prelims. She earned the silver in the 1500 freestyle (16:02.56), finished fourth in the 800 free (8:24.22) and placed 14th in the 400 freestyle (4:11.32).