Recap by: John Sullivan, Rice Athletics (email@example.com)
Rice true freshman Lindsay Mathys won the 200-yard butterfly and swam on the winning 400-freestyle relay to help pace the Owls' swim team on the final day of action at the annual Spartan Invitational Monday evening in Clearwater, Fla.
For as much fun the Rice swimmers were having for four days in Florida by donning festive Holiday attire (but more likely because the University's final exams were now behind them), the Owls were all business when it came to competing in the pool.
Rice won the six team meet with 1,134 points. Nova Southeastern University was second in the team standings with 861.5 points while host school Tampa finished third (761.5 points).
Mathys led a big Rice scoring wave in the 200-butterfly with a sound and solid time of 2:01.16 that is the best by an Owl this year. Fellow freshman Brittany Bui was keeping pace with a 2:01.62 for second place, but the scoring barrage did not stop there. Kaitlyn Swinney was fourth (2:02.73), Kaitlin Benjamin was sixth (2:04.19) and Kiley Beall was eighth (2:06.56) -- and that was just the championship final. Sydney Franzen was second in the consolation final (2:05.37) and Sarah Nowaski was eleventh, give Rice seven of the Top 11 spots.
Both the 200-breaststroke and 200-backstroke had similar outcomes that were as equally as convincing. Freshman Ellery Parish won the 200-backstroke with a personal-best time of 1:58.97. Julie Litver was third (2:01.00) and Kiley Beall placed fifth (2:03.05). Alicia Caldwell continued her strong weekend of racing with a win in the consolation final (1:59.36).
Marie-Claire Schillinger lead a 1-2 Rice finish with Nicole Limberg in the 200-breaststroke, posting times of 2:12.32 and 2:16.74, respectively. Kelsey Evans was seventh (2:20.11) and Bui won the consolation final (2:21.14).
The distance swimmers scored big with spots two thru five in the mile. Claire Therien not only raced to a second place finish, her career-best time of 16:45.69 vaulter her to one of the top spots among the Conference USA leaders this season. Hanna Huston was third (16:46.53), Kaitlyn Swinney finished fourth (16:48.76) and Sarah Nowaski placed fifth (17:00.24).
The senior tandem of Lauren Rhodes and Jaecey Parham went 1-2 in the consolation final of the 100-freestyle, but their respective times of 50.34 and 51.18 were two of the best marks of the entire evening session.
Rhodes and Parham, along with the swimmers of the day (Mathys) and weekend (Caldwell), teamed-up to win the 400-freestyle relay with a time of 3:21.61. The mark is the sixth-fastest in school history but the Owls very well may have been, as the Holiday song says, `laughing all the way.'
"Great post finals meet for the Owls," said Rice head coach Seth Huston. "We stepped up this weekend and swam a lot of races and performed really well against some great NCAA Division II programs. We have earned a day at the beach and then home to some holiday family and friends time. "
Rice is the No. 28 ranked team in the country according to CollegeSwimming.com. The team will next be in action at the University of Arizona after the New Year.