ATLANTA – The Rice duo of Kaitlyn Swinney and Marie-Claire Schillinger both set records on their way to winning individual Conference USA event titles Friday evening on the third day of action at the league swim championships in Atlanta, Ga.
Schillinger had proved to be one of C-USA’s top performers in the breaststroke all year long, so it wasn't too much of a surprise she qualified for the evening's championship final. The way the Orinda, Calif., native qualified, however, was an eye-opener. Schillinger is now the best 100-yard breaststroke swimmer in league history, breaking the C-USA meet and Rice records with a time of 1:00.13. She then coasted to the individual title in the evening session with a time of 1:00.34, and teammate Shelbi Ragsdale placed sixth overall (1:02.22).
In the first event of the day, Swinney secured the final’s top seed in the 400-individual medley with a steady 4:20.68. The junior from Sugar Land, Texas, then broke a five-year old Rice record with a 4:15.82 to win her first C-USA individual crown. The Owls’ scoring barrage in the event in fact included second place finish by Rylee Linhardt (4:18.28), fifth by Claire Therien (4:22.87) and sixth by Hanna Huston (4:23.15).
Rice did a lot of scoring Friday. After three full days (a total of 14 events) the Owls moved up into second place in the team standings with a total of 501 points. Florida International leads the meet with 641 points while Marshall is third (471 pts). North Texas is fourth (280), followed by Old Dominion (209) and Florida Atlantic (156) and to round out the six-team field.
Junior Alicia Caldwell had a solid showing by placing third in the 100-backstroke (54.03) and fourth in the 200-freestyle (1:47.79 for the third-fastest mark in school history). In the 200-free Caldwell led teammates Lauren Rhodes (8th, 1:50.75), Sydney Franzen (9th, 1:50.32) and Anniina Ala-Seppälä (1:50.53). In the backstroke Caldwell was joined by Kiley Beall (5th, 54.31), Julie Litver (8th, 56.16) and Kate Nezelek (9th, 55.70).
Beall and Ragsdale both made the championship final of the 100-butterfly. Bell was fourth with a 53.73 and Ragsdale was fifth with a 54.28.
The Rice foursome of Caldwell, Schillinger, Beall and Rhodes closed out the night by taking second in the 400-medley relay. The group set a new school record with a time of 3:38.48 to take second place behind FIU.
There is now just one day remaining in the four-day Championship meet. Saturday's events get under way with preliminary swim races beginning at 9:30 am (Central Time) at the Georgia Tech Swim Center, the same facility that hosted the 1996 Olympic events. Evening finals, including springboard diving, are scheduled for 5 pm (CST).