AUSTIN – Rice’s Kaitlyn Swinney qualified for the 2016 United States Olympic Trials on Saturday’ second round of action at the Arena Pro Swim Series in Austin, Texas.
Swinney posted a trials-qualifying time of 4:54.67 in the morning preliminaries of the 400-LCM individual medley. The sophomore from Fort Bend, Texas, can now represent Rice at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Nebraska later this summer. It is Swinney’s first time to qualify for the prestigious meet. She is the second Owl swimmer in as many years to make a Trials cut under the direction of head coach Seth Huston, who is now in his 14th season at the helm of the Rice program.
With the fast morning prelim she was 20th among a starting field of 73 entries that included professional as well as elite collegiate swimmers. Swinney easily made the C-Finals of evening session, where she appeared to post an even faster time of 4:53.47 to finish 18th overall. Her evening race, however, was wiped away by disqualification for breaking the plane in a freestyle turn.
Evening race or not, Swinney qualified for the Trials in the morning prelims. The whirlwind day was a lot to take in.
"I can't describe how great this day has been," Swinney said after the meet Saturday. "I've been trying to get the Olympic Trials cut in the 400 IM for four years, and looking up at the scoreboard and seeing that all of my hard work has finally paid off was definitely the highlight of my swimming career thus far. I'd like to thank Seth, (Rice Assistant coaches) Amanda Caldwell and Mike Peron, and Mike Anton and my wonderful teammates for all of their support and guidance!"
Swinney was not the only Rice entry in the day’s 400-IM. Owl freshman Hanna Huston was 52nd in the prelims with time of 5:05.29.
Fellow Owl freshman Sydney Franzen finished 84th among a field of 128 entries in the 200-LCM freestyle with a time of 2:06.95. Rice rookie Marie-Claire Schillinger was 93rd in the 50-freestyle with a 27.86. Sophomore Alicia Caldwell posted a 2:25.95 in the 200-backstroke. The Sydney, Australia, native was 67th overall.
The meet concludes Sunday. Sunday’s events, featuring morning prelims and evening finals, includes the 200-butterfly, 100-breaststroke, 100-backstroke, 200-IM, and 800-freestyle (women). All events are in long-course meters.