Owls swimmers compete at the Austin Grand Prix
After finishing the first week of the new semester, the Owls headed out to Austin last Friday to take part in the USA Swimming Grand Prix Tournament. A total of five Owls competed in the events. The action began on Friday, when freshman and Austin native Erin Flanigan finished 27th out of a field of 39 entrants in the 400-meter freestyle. Her long-course time of 4:23.28 is equivalent to 4:52.77 in short-course yards. Also, Flanigan was one of two Rice swimmers in the meet's 100-meter butterfly. She was 41st in the prelims with a 1:04.50 (converts to 56.57 in short-course yards), while fellow freshman Casey Clark swam a 1:03.98 (56.11 SCY). Clark was also 51st out of 186 swimmers in the 100-meter freestyle after finishing with a time of 59.31 (a season-best 51.84 in SCY).
The success continued on Saturday, when Flanigan continued to impress her teammates and hometown crowd. She finished 56th in a field of more than 160 entrants in the 200-meter freestyle and swam a long-course time of 2:06.64, which converts to a near-season best 1:50.68 in SCY. Not to be outdone, Clark continued to show that she was as strong a swimmer as ever by finishing 82nd overall in the 200-freestyle with a 2:08.22 (1:52.06 SCY). Additionally, she was 82nd in a field of 154 in the 50-meter freestyle with a time of 27.33 (a SCY season-best 24.15). The Rice senior tandem of Shelby Bottoms (5:14.58) and Alex O'Brien (5:15.89) were 80th and 82nd, respectively, in the 400-meter individual medley. Sophomore Michelle Gean came in 94th in the 200-backstroke with a 2:28.77.
While the Owls were impressive throughout the meet, Sunday was perhaps their strongest showing, saving the best for last. It started with Flanigan, who finished 16th out of a field of 74 competitors in the 200-meter butterfly with a long-course meters time of 2:19.17. Her time is equal to a season-best 2:02.61 in short-course yards and is a half-second faster than her previous best set at the University of Houston Invitational last fall. Fellow freshman Clark led three Owls in the prelims of the 200-individual medley, and was 52nd overall in a field of 145 entrants with a long-course time of 2:25.64 (converts to a season-best 2:06.27 in SCY). Bottoms was 68th with a 2:27.04 (2:07.48). Gean completed a 2:41.74 (2:20.23 SCY) and competed in the 100-backstroke and was 100th with a time of 1:09.89 (59.62 SCY). After this impressive showing, the Owls look forward to their next meet on Jan. 27-28 at UH, as Rice participates in a quad meet with UH, Louisiana State University and Tulane University.
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