Jan. 22, 2013
The Rice swim team returns to action this weekend at the annual four-team Quad Meet in Baton Rouge, La. The Owls, along with crosstown rival Houston and fellow Conference USA opponent Tulane, join nationally-ranked meet host LSU in a two-day 17-event meet this Friday and Saturday (Jan. 25-26).
Rice head coach Seth Huston, now in his eleventh season at the helm of the program, said he expects this week's meet to be a tougher challenge than the team's most recent outing at the Tampa Relays where the Owls finished in first place in each of that meet's 13 events. The Quad Meet, with its lineup of teams and two-day format, is an extremely tough test leading into the annual Conference USA Championships next month - and that's just the way coach Huston likes it.
"This is a big meet," coach Huston said. "SEC power LSU will offer very strong competition and Houston and Tulane are C-USA foes that are also mining their lineups for the league Championships."
"Stepping-up at this time of the year is very important," coach Huston added. "How we race and compete will tell us a lot about ourselves as we prepare for the C-USA Championship meet."
When the collegiate season began in October the Owls built on some early success up through the final exams of the fall semester. After finals concluded the swimmers posted their very best times of the season in meets in Tampa and in San Antonio. The student-athletes have now returned to classes for the spring semester, but Huston explained the recent performances in workouts has not dropped in the least.
"Since we returned from our Christmas break we have had our most challenging and consistent training of the season," Huston explained. "Once we return to school it is typical to see a drop off in our intensity and consistency, although I have been very impressed with how this year's team has trained since being back in classes.
"I think the team is looking forward to competing in another meet," he said. "It has been a while since they have stepped-up and really had something to compete for. This is our last meet before conference and we are trying to determine who will be on the scoring squad and what events people will swim.
If the team is indeed looking forward to a meet to step-up and compete in, this week's challenge in Baton Rouge is a good place to get restarted. Huston had special mention for the Owls leading the way during workouts.
"I have been very impresses with Cora McKenzie and Shelbi Ragsdale," the head coach said. "They struggled a little bit during the latter half of the fall semester, but have really looked great as of late. "Erin Flanigan is doing some amazing stuff in practice and Michelle Gean has had some great practices in recent weeks."