Nov. 27, 2013
HOUSTON - Five swimmers with experience from the club and high school ranks have signed with Rice and will join the Owls in the fall of 2014, head swim coach Seth Huston announced on Wednesday (Nov. 27).
The Owls' new signees are Kaitlin Benjamin of Perwyn, Pa., Kylie Burgess of Stillwater, Minn., Jaecey Parnham of Lubbock, Tex., Carly Pratt of The Woodlands, Tex., and Kaitlyn Swinney of Sugar Land, Tex. All have elite competitive credentials and have met the University's challenging academic entrance requirements. The signees' first semester at Rice begins in August of 2014.
Coach Huston had high praise for the Owls' latest class, his 12th at Rice since taking the helm of the program that continues to rise. Under Huston's direction the Owl swimmers have won two Conference USA championships in the last three years and earlier this week were ranked No. 22 in the nation by CollegeSwimming.com.
"Our fall signing class is loaded with versatility and has the potential to be some big contributors to our program's future success," Huston said. "These young women reflect our current team's positive, supportive culture. They are all bright and have a great work-ethic. I think, they all have the necessary ingredients for excellence."
More detailed highlights on each Owl signee is provided below. Six selected Rice swimmers will next compete individually at the Texas Longhorn Invitational on Dec. 6-7. After a break for final exams of the semester, the full Rice team will next be in action on Dec. 20 in a dual meet against nationally-ranked Texas A&M in College Station.
2013-2014 Rice Swimming Signee Highlights
Kaitlin Benjamin * Butterfly/Freestyle
Perwyn, Pa. (Conestoga HS / Suburban Seahawks Swim Team)
* 100 butterfly 56.25
* 200 butterfly 2:03.09
* 100 freestyle 52.63
* 200 freestyle 1:53.71
* Winter Junior National Qualifier
* PIAA High School State Finalist
* Coached by Rob Kirkby (HS)
* Coached by Charlie Kennedy (club)
* USA Swimming scholastic All-American; National Honor Society
Coach Huston said: "Rice was Kaitlin's school of choice after a summer visit. She really embraced our school's environment even before she got to know the team. The girls we have had on the team over the years that love Rice first just really excel in everything they do here. Kaitlin will be a great addition for us, particularly in the 100- and 200 butterfly and freestyle events. I feel like Kaitlin will help shore us up in the butterfly events in particular."
Benjamin said: "Rice offers a highly successful Division I swimming program combined with one of the top academic institutions in the country. I feel so comfortable with the school and the team that I cannot imagine myself anywhere else. Go Owls!"
Kylie Burgess * Distance/IM/Backstroke
Stillwater, Minn. (Stillwater Area HS / St. Croix Swim Club)
* 500 freestyle 4:58.40
* 1000 freestyle 10:11.02
* 1650 freestyle 17:19.56
* 200 IM 2:07.18; 400 IM 4:28.34
* 100 backstroke 58.69; 200 backstroke 2:05.77
* NCSA Junior National Qualifier in seven events
* Three-time all-state honoree
* Served as HS team captain (76-members on team)
* Coached by Brian Luke (HS)
* Coached by Olga Espinosa (club)
* USA Swimming scholastic All-American; National Honor Society
* Stillwater Mathematics Student of the Year
Coach Huston said: "Kylie took a visit and knew Rice was what she was looking for. Her motivation to train hard and excel will serve her well here. Kylie's versatility in the distance events, IM and backstroke make her very valuable to our future. I was sold on Kylie's commitment and work-ethic. Both are so necessary to compete at this level."
Burgess said: "I chose Rice because it had everything I was looking for and more. The swim team seed like my perfect fit, as I know it has both a hard-working and fun atmosphere. The school itself is a place where I feel I can expand my horizons as much as possible, and its low student-to-faculty ratio and unique residential college system are both very appealing to me. When I visited, I fell in love with the campus, and at that point I knew I couldn't be happier anywhere else."
Jaecey Parham * Sprints/IM
Lubbock, Tex. (Monterey HS / Lubbock Swim Club)
* 200 IM 2:04.09
* 100 freestyle 52.37
* 100 butterfly 57.25
* 100 backstroke 56.56
* 200 backstroke 2:05.48
* 200 breaststroke 2:24.12
* 2012 All-America in 200-IM
* Coached by Trey Hayes (HS & club)
* Academic 5A All-State
Coach Huston said: "I have had the opportunity to follow Jaecey's high school career and always felt that she would be a great fit at Rice. She doesn't have a weak stroke so her ability to excel in multiple events and distances is very desirable in our team setting. After making a club and home visit, and watching Jaecey train, I realized she has more explosiveness then I had noticed previously. She is going to be an excellent collegiate swimmer."
Parham said: "It felt like the right fit for me because of the team, coaches, campus and great academics."
Carly Pratt * Backstroke/Freestyle
The Woodlands, Tex. (The John Cooper School / The Woodlands Swim Team)
* 100 backstroke 57.05
* 200 backstroke 2:01.54
* 100 Free 52.10
* 200 Free 1:52.38
* Southwest Preparatory Conference record holder in 100-back; league champion in 100-back & 200-IM
* Coached by Steve Breeding (HS)
* Coached by Tim Bauer (club)
* USA Swimming scholastic All-American; Three-time High Honor Roll
* Served as club team captain
Coach Huston said: "Carly is from the Houston area and we have had our eye on her for the last couple of years. Just like several other signees, Carly had Rice at the top of her list early-on. She is going to really help in the backstroke and freestyle events, as well as the IM. While Carly comes from a great program in The Woodlands Swim Team, I feel like she will really thrive in Rice's academic and athletic environment, and will make some big improvements in college."
Pratt said: "Rice represents an athlete's and scholar's dream, combining a world-class education with Division I swimming. I look forward to working with coach Seth and training with all the Rice girls next year."
Kaitlyn Swinney * IM/Backstroke
Fort Bend, Tex. (Austin HS / First Colony Swim Team)
* 200 IM 2:05.60
* 400 IM 4:23.78
* 200 backstroke 2:04.54
* Five-time 5A all-state qualifier
* Coached by Chris Aguayo (HS)
* Coached by Allison Beebe (club)
* USA Swimming scholastic All-American
Coach Huston said: "Kaitlyn is our endurance version of versatility. Having watched her over the years it is apparent that she has a new best-stroke at almost every meet. Kaitlyn appreciates the process and work that it takes to excel in swimming. At the collegiate level I see her as true 200/400-IMer, where a couple of years ago she just missed the Olympic Trial cut in the 400-IM. That experience will serve her well in the future."
Swinney said: "I felt at home (at Rice) and the team seems like one big family."