The Rice women’s swim team raced to second place this weekend in the CSCAA Open Water Championship five-kilometer race held at the University of Kansas. Only Kansas finished ahead of Rice, winning by just four points. The Owls beat out 10 other teams in the event, including the University of Missouri and Southern Illinois University.
Junior Hanna Huston led the pack for the Owls, finishing third individually with a time of 1:04:52.89. After beginning the race in first place, Huston said she decided to fall back to draft off other swimmers. She was unable to regain her lead, but, in the final 1,000 meters, she pulled away from Kansas swimmer and fourth-place finisher Lauryn Parrish to secure her third-place spot.
Huston said she was incredibly pleased with how she swam.
“I was very happy with my performance,” Huston said. “It was more competitive this year than it was last year so I was excited to race.”
Not far behind was sophomore Sarah Nowaski, who finished sixth with a time of 1:05:26.93. Head coach Seth Huston said he was proud of how Nowaski performed.
“[Nowaski] swam really controlled throughout the race,” Huston said. “She really put herself in a position for a top-eight finish.”
Freshman Lindsay Mathys began her collegiate career by rounding out the team’s 22-point total, calculated by adding the positions of the team’s top-three finishers, with a 13th place time of 1:06:34.98. Senior Alicia Caldwell finished off the Rice team results with a 14th-place finish and a time of 1:06:42.71.
Both Hanna Huston and Caldwell said the five-kilometer race was grueling. According to Hanna Huston, the wind levels were not ideal, making the water choppy. However, she said it made for a much more entertaining race.
“It was harder to swim, but that’s what makes it fun,” Hanna Huston said. “You never know what you’re going to get, even during the race.”
According to Caldwell, one must have not only have physical strength to compete in an open water race but also mental strength.
“The pain starts to set in pretty early, so you have to mentally keep yourself on track,” Caldwell said. “You have to fight through the pain until the end.”
According to Caldwell, who has mostly competed in short distance races during her career at Rice, finishing 14th in a five-kilometer race made her fully realize her potential in races outside her comfort zone.
“I was glad to see I could still push the longer distances,” Caldwell said. “I am now more excited to concentrate on the rest of the season and see what I can do.”
Up next, the Owls will compete in the Rice Fall Splash Invitational, swimming against the University of the Incarnate Word and the University of Houston on Oct. 7.