Dec. 5, 2013
Less is more when just five Owls on the No. 22 ranked Rice swim team compete at the University of Texas Invitational Friday and Saturday (Dec. 6-7).
Five of the team's top performers from this season, Casey Clark, Erin Flanigan, Chelsea Fong, Shelly Patton and Karina Wlostowska are the only Owls competing as Rice fast-approaches its final exams of the fall semester. The Invitational is actually a three-day meet beginning on Thursday, but the Rice contingent will be in for just one event on Friday (the 800-freestyle relay) before doing most of its swimming in the six events on Saturday. The elite field of teams features meet host Texas (ranked No. 19), UCLA (No. 21), USC (No. 25), Penn State (No. 30), Arizona (No. 36), Wisconsin and Harvard.
Keeping the smaller squad was, according to head coach Seth Huston, by design. Top to bottom the entire Rice team has been fast enough to earn a national ranking in CollegeSwimming.com's Top 25, but some of the squad's premium performers could benefit from facing elite opponents in a meet that was not on the Owls' original schedule. The top swimmers have already posted seven NCAA provisional times, but his strategic approach of having that same small group more-fresh for events on the Invitational's third day (Saturday) could turn the "B" cuts into automatic qualifiers, or "A" cuts.
"I want to give some of our swimmers a chance to compete at a higher level, and do so while rested and see how we fare," coach Huston said. "Swimming Day 3 events as our Day 1 will hopefully have us sharper than we typically are by the end of a long three-day meet. I look forward to seeing how we match-up this Saturday. If we aspire to qualify multiple people for the NCAA Championships this will be a great test of how we respond."
Live results for the meet are available at the above link.