Jan. 22, 2014
After more than a month since the team's last competition, the Rice swimmers return to action with a pair of road dual meets on Jan. 25-26. The Owls face the University of Arkansas on Saturday at noon before meeting Arkansas-Little Rock on Sunday at 11 am.
The back-to-back meets are a challenge, and that's just fine by Rice head swim coach Seth Huston.
"The University of Arkansas has been in the Top 25," coach Huston said. "They won the University of Missouri Invitational, which had a number of very good teams competing, including Florida International who is strong in our conference. (Arkansas is) a very well-balanced team, with good swimmers in every event. We'll have our work cut out for us, no question, particularly in the distance and breaststroke events.
"In less than 24 hours we then turn-around and compete at Arkansas-Little Rock on Sunday," Huston added. "The big thing for us is to try and stay sharp and swim like we're capable of doing. I want us to be competitive and be ready to race."
Huston has a good reason for keeping his eye on the mental and emotional aspects of competing against a pair of good teams on the road. The Owls' previous meet was more than a month ago (a dual at Texas A&M). Now the team has two meets in two days. The good news is the head coach has liked what he's seen of the team in recent post-holiday workouts.
"We came back from the break and spent two weeks here training before classes began," Huston explained. "We trained very well, and I was really pleased. We continued to train when classes re-started, and had another good week, which is about where we are right now.
"It seems there's someone different standing-out (in practice) every week," he said. "Right now Shelbi Ragsdale has trained well after coming-off some injuries she had in the fall. Michelle Gean is having her best two or three weeks of training to this point in the season. Lauren FitzGerald is a freshman who has gotten better and better over the course of last semester. She's been on her game, super-consistent recently. I think Erin Flanigan has done a fabulous job the last three weeks.
"Hopefully will be ready to compete and go fast," he added. "I am keeping my fingers crossed the weather cooperates."