ATLANTA --For the third time in as many years, Rice's Marie-Claire Schillinger set a new school record on the way to winning her third-straight Conference USA individual title in the 200-yard breaststroke on Saturday's final day of action at the league's championship meet in Atlanta, Ga.
Schillinger helped pace the Owls to a second place finish in the final team standings with 781 points. Florida International won the meet (and a fourth-straight C-USA team championship) with 1,031 points. Marshall was third (513 pts), followed by North Texas, (442), Florida Atlantic (319) and Old Dominion (315), respectively.
As she had done in her freshman year in 2016, her sophomore season in 2017, and now as a junior, Schillinger won the C-USA individual championship in the 200-breaststroke by breaking her own school record in the event. The native of Orinda, Calif., quickly built a lead on the other competitors in the field and went on to post a winning time of 2:10.42 that was two seconds faster than second place.
Schillinger has been the dominant competitor in the 200-breaststoke, but this year she had some scoring support from her Owl teammates. The Rice freshman trio of Nicole Limberg (2:14.82), Cailey Renken (2:15.34), and Kelsey Evans (2:18.02) all scored for the Blue & Gray by finishing 6th, 7th and 10th overall.
It was a similar cluster of big finishes in the 200-backstroke, led by the veteran senior class. Kaitlyn Swinney blazed to a personal best (1:57.58) to take second place. Kiley Beall was third (1:59.00), with Jaecey Parham fourth (1:59.87) and Julie Litver placing eighth (2:00.80).
Rice posted a scoring block in the 200-butterfly with Lindsay Mathys (1:59.47), Brittany Bui (2:00.46) and Kaitlin Benjamin (2:01.78) placing 3-4-5 in the finals. Junior Hanna Huston led the Rice distance specialists in the mile, placing third with a 16:33.37 that was her new collegiate best and the fourth-best mark in school history. Claire Therien was seventh in the event with a 16:53.68.
In the finals of the 100-yard freestyle the senior tandem of Lauren Rhodes (50.04) and Alicia Caldwell (50.28) were fourth and seventh overall, respectively. The duo were later joined by Mathys and Parham as Rice's entry in the 400-freestyle relay. The foursome finished second in the event with a time of 3:20.80 that is the fifth-fastest mark in school history.
The C-USA meet has concluded, but the swim season is not quite finished. The Owls still have a chance to provisionally qualify for next month's NCAA Championships in Ohio or the CSCAA National Invitational meet in Annapolis, Md.