2021 TAC Titans Long Course Premier Meet
- Thursday, April 8 – Sunday, April 11, 2021
- Triangle Aquatic Center, Cary, North Carolina
- Long Course Meters (50 meters), Prelims/Finals
- Meet Central
- Live Stream
- Psych Sheets
The USA Swimming Pro Swim Series meet in Mission Viejo, California, will draw most of the top Olympic contenders this weekend, but across the country in North Carolina, the TAC Titans Long Course Premier Meet might have the most intriguing race of the weekend.
There, high school butterfly wunderkinds Claire Curzan and Torri Huske will face off in what could be an Olympic Trials showdown in the women’s 100 meter butterfly.
The two have traded National Age Group and National High School Records over the last 2 years. The 16-year old Curzan’s best of 56.61 from November currently ranks her 2nd in the world this season, while Huske’s 57.36 from a different meet in November ranks her 5th in the world.
The two are the fastest Americans so far this season, ahead of two other teenagers: Kate Douglass (57.43) and Gretchen Walsh (57.43).
Curzan, who is now the favorite to win at Trials (albeit not an insurmountable favorite given the talent in the event), has raced a lot since quarantines lifted last summer, but it’s been almost entirely in her home pool.
This has often led to questions about why she’s not traveling more to Pro Swim Series meets.
The one answer is pretty straight-forward: both of her parents are doctors, including her mom, who is an emergency room doctor, and the pandemic has placed a big strain on the medical system and those who work in it. With Curzan being only 16 and a minor, it has just made more sense for her family to stay close to home.
The other answer is shown in this meet: she doesn’t have to travel far from home to get big-time racing in.
In addition to Huske, Ally Tetzloff, Bailey Nero, and Charlotte Hook, all of whom have been 59 in the 100 fly in long course and will contend for semi-finals spots at Trials at least, will be at this meet.
Curzan is also scheduled to race in the 100 back, 200 back, 50 free, and 100 free.
In that 100 free, she’ll face another fast field again, with Huske as the top seed (54.04), Catie DeLoof as the 2nd seed (54.43), and another 16-year old Erin Gemmell as the 4th seed (55.87). Curzan’s 55.65 makes her the #3 seed.
This meet will be littered with big names, with the pros from Wolfpack Elite based out of NC State in attendance. That means Justin Ress, Coleman Stewart, Katrina Konopka, South African Record holder Chris Reid, and Jack Saunderson will also race.
Another former US National Teamer Emma Barksdale, based out of South Carolina, will race as well. So too will Paige Madden, who just completed her collegiate career at the University of Virginia by winning the 200, 500, and 1650 freestyles at the NCAA Championships.
The under-the-radar storyline to watch here is Sam Stewart, a former Texas Longhorn who is training at home in Mississippi with the YMCA Hub Fins. A member of the USA Swimming National Team, the 24-year old Stewart was working on a breakout year in 2020 before the summer was canceled. His 1:57.76 in the 200 IM was as fast as other swimmers often thrown into the mix for a spot on the Olympic Team in that event, like Carson Foster and Andrew Seliskar.
In spite of a big drop to get through to that time, Stewart still seems to be written off by most fans as a serious contender.
With the top (legitimate) seed in that 200 IM, and enough quality behind him in the form of 17-year olds and top 20 recruits Sam Hoover and Baylor Nelson, he’ll have a chance to prove his legitimacy this weekend. He could benefit a lot, in public perception, from the attention that will be paid to this meet thanks to some of the big battles alluded to above.