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Women's swimming kicks off their spring season

By Nicki Chamberlain-Simon     1/27/14 6:00pm

The Rice University women's swimming team split a win and a loss in Arkansas this weekend, falling to the University of Arkansas on Saturday and defeating the University of Arkansas, Little Rock on Sunday. These meets were Rice's first events since facing Texas A&M University on Dec. 20.

The team traveled 13 hours to Fayetteville, Ark., where they faced No. 23 Arkansas. Junior Casey Clark posted the team's only first place score, swimming a time of 1:49.98 in the 200-yard freestyle. A handful of Rice swimmers places second in their events, including junior Erin Flanigan in the 500 free (4:57.70), seniors Chelsea Fong and Karina Wlostowska who tied in the 50 free (24.13) and senior Michelle Gean in the 100 backstroke (57.64).

Freshmen Marita Sailor and junior Rachel Moody also earned second-place finishes. Sailor finished second in the 200-yard butterfly (2:07.86) and 400-yard individual medley, and Moody placed second in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:04.31). In addition, the team placed second in the 4-x-100 yard relay and the 200-yard medley relay. The team ended up losing 207-86.

Sophomore Cora McKenzie, who swam in the 200-medley relay, said the Owls' showing against the Razorbacks did not reflect the usual caliber of the team's swimming.

"We've been through some tough training the last few weeks, and in the past, we've been able to push past, this and really perform at meets," McKenzie said. "We did not compete at this high level against Arkansas, however, which is something to work on."

However, the tables turned the following day after Rice won nine out of the 10 events against Little Rock. Clark, Flanigan and McKenzie provided great performances, along with senior Kim Steinhouse, who won the 100-yard freestyle and anchored the winning 200 free relay. Sophomores Taylor Armstrong and Shelly Patton also won individual events in the 500 freestyle and 100 breaststroke, respectively. Rice topped Little Rock, 127-56.

Clark said the matchup was a good spirit booster before entering the toughest part of their season.

"Our meet against Little Rock was a rare opportunity for us to mix up some of our events and swim some different things," Clark said. "I think mixing up our events and having some fun was very good for team morale, especially in this stretch before conference."

With about one month left to go until the conference meet Feb. 26-Mar. 1, the Rice women's swimming team is 3-3 in dual meets. This weekend, the season continues with the annual quad meet at the University of Houston against Louisiana State University, Tulane University and UH. Last year, the Owls came in second behind LSU, which hosted the meet.

Until then, Head Coach Seth Huston said the team is focusing on polishing its performance to prepare for the tail end of the season.

"We're just trying to gauge where we're trying to fine tune and sharpen the team to be our best," Huston said. "We're in that stage of the season, and that's what we're really working on."

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