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Swimming has strong finish to holiday meets

By Louis Lesser     1/11/12 6:00pm

While many Rice University students were at home, the Blue and Gray continued to compete in several swimming events throughout late December and early January. Right after finals, the women's team headed to San Antonio to compete in the University of Incarnate Word Christmas Invitational. After three days of competition, the Owls finished a strong second out of six teams. Rice took four of the top nine spots in the 100-yard freestyle. Sophomore Chelsea Fong finished third overall with a career-best 50.87 seconds. Freshman Casey Clark was fifth (52.23 second prelims), while sophomore Karina Wlostowska (52.83 second prelims) and senior Allison Godbe (52.70 seconds) were eighth and ninth, respectively. After winning the 500-yard freestyle on Saturday's opening round of the three-day meet, freshman Erin Flanigan completed a victory in the mile on Monday, leading a 1-2 finish for Rice, in which she was the only finisher to break the 17-minute mark at 16:55.91. Freshman Madison Livingston scored big for the Owls with a career-best 2:20.86 to take third in the 200-yard breaststroke. In the 200-butterfly the trio of Flanigan (fifth), Clark (seventh) and senior Shelby Bottoms (eighth) all made the finals of the 200-yard butterfly. However, the tournament was capped off just as impressively, as the Owl foursome of freshman Marissa Konicke, Godbe, Fong and Clark closed out the meet by winning in the 400-yard freestyle relay with a season-best 3:24.92. This impressive feat helped secure a second place overall finish for the Owls.

However, after a short Christmas break, the Rice swimmers returned to the pool in San Diego, Calif. for a four-team meet, followed by the University of San Diego relays. The team started the trip with a loss to San Diego State University (127-139) and rebounded to defeat Washington State University (152-109) and the University of California at San Diego (164-123), and raced against in-state rival Texas Christian University. The next day, the Rice swimmers finished fourth among a field of seven teams at the University of San Diego Relays. The Owls' top performances were a pair of third place finishes among ten different events at the relay-only meet. Rice compiled 168 points for fourth place. The University of California at Los Angeles won the meet with 276 points, followed by Boise State University (225 pts.) and San Jose State (211). The Blue and Gray finished ahead of Conference USA rival Tulane University (132), meet host San Diego (121) and Colorado College (49).

The group of Flanigan, Godbe, Shelby Bottoms, and Fong finished third among a field of 13 entries with a time of 7:42.28 in the 800-meter freestyle, and Rice was also third in the 4x100 individual medley (not the NCAA's standard 400-medley relay). Fong was named C-USA Swimmer of the Week for her performance at the dual meets. Sophomores Michelle Gean and Lilly Marrow, along with veterans Bottoms and Fong recorded a time of 3:59.83 to place behind UCLA (3:57.80) and Boise State (3:57.83). In total, the Owl swimmers had a successful weekend of action in California, and returned home for the spring semester with a desire to continue to show success. The Owls will quickly get their chance, as Rice will next compete this coming week at the annual Texas Grand Prix, taking place Jan. 13-16 in Austin, Texas vaulter on the roster.

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