Owls dominate in the water on Senior Day
Courtesy Tommy Lavergne
Rice swimming won their first meet of the season last weekend, winning 15 of 21 events over the two-day meet and handing Tulane University a 245-146 loss. This was the final home meet of the season, and the final home meet ever for the seven seniors on the team.
“As a team, I felt we did a great job of overcoming the difficulties of training and competing amidst COVID and the stress of our last week of classes to really get up and race,” senior Lindsay Mathys said.
The Owls took the lead early in the meet and never looked back. They won 11 of the 14 events held last Friday, the first day of the meet. Junior Becca Evans continued her strong season, winning three individual events on day one and setting a new facility record in the 50-yard butterfly with a time of 24.98.
True freshman Imogen Meers also had a strong performance on day one, winning a pair of races. She set a facility record as well, with a time of 25.76 in the 50-yard backstroke. Meers said the team performed well, despite the challenges of COVID-19 and racing on consecutive days in the cold November weather.
“It was a good way to continue our season, get suited up and swim fast at home with the team,” Meers said. “The team had to be tough as racing back to back in November is challenging enough, without complications like quarantining because of COVID; a situation that has unfortunately hit a few team members hard this semester.”
Meers and Evans are also a part of the 200-yard freestyle relay team, along with Mathys and junior Marta Cano Minarro. The relay team improved on their previous time from their meet against Texas A&M University; their new time of 1:33.14 ranks in the top five of Division I times posted thus far this season.
Head coach Seth Huston said this was a big weekend for his team, adding that this meet did wonders for the team’s chemistry.
“Overall, I am pleased with our meet,” Huston said. “I think our team built more cohesion this weekend than the rest of the semester combined.”
The second day of the meet was when the senior Owls were honored, and the star of the day was Mathys. She battled multiple injuries to her leg and ankle over the weekend, winning the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 2:02.96. Mathys came right back the next race to swim the second leg of the Owl 400-freestyle relay, helping the Owls win the final race of the weekend.
“Even before coming to Rice I’ve dealt with chronic injury, and to say that it’s discouraging would be an understatement,” Mathys said. “Despite the pain and difficulty that my injuries have presented, for the past three and a half years my senior teammates have had my back every step of the way. For me, it was only fitting that even in the midst of all these setbacks we were still able to put on our game faces and have a great senior meet. “
In addition to Mathys, Meers also capped off a strong weekend on the second day, adding another individual victory in the 100-yard individual medley. She finished the weekend with three individual victories and swam the lead leg of all four of Rice's winning relays. Meers said that as the team heads into the holiday break, they need to stay prepared for whatever comes.
“Overall the team is just trying to stay positive and resilient as it’s hard to know what might come around the corner,” Meers said. “It’s definitely just a matter of taking each day as it comes and adapting as we go.”
Mathys agreed, adding that this extended rest period should allow the Owls to come back reenergized in January.
“We're focused on resting, reconnecting and moving forward,” Mathys said. “[Coach] Huston has been very flexible and understanding, allowing us to spend [more time] at home over the holidays so long as we’re able to continue training. This will definitely help everyone return for next semester invigorated and excited to take on our heavy winter training and competitions.”
The Owls are expected to compete in the Conference USA championship meet, which is usually held in late February. They also usually qualify for national meets as well, like the CSCAA National Invitational Championship. The dates of these meets have yet to be announced.
More from The Rice Thresher
For just the third time in school history, Rice will be moving athletic conferences. Along with five other Conference USA schools, Rice accepted an invitation to join the American Athletic Conference, the AAC announced Thursday morning. Rice will remain in C-USA for now, as the move won’t take effect until a later time which is yet to be determined, although multiple Rice coaches indicated that 2023 could be a possible target date. According to Athletic Director Joe Karlgaard, in the AAC, Rice has found a conference that meets all of its criteria.
Senior outside hitter Nicole Lennon made Rice history on Saturday, breaking the program’s all-time kills record as the Owls beat Louisiana Tech University in both matches of their two game series. With her 1970th kill, Lennon broke the record set almost two decades ago by Rice legend and former member of the Spain women’s national volleyball team Rebeca Paz. After the game, Lennon said that breaking the record let her see just how much of an impact she’s made on the program.
This past Saturday night, the Rice football team lost to the University of Texas, San Antonio by a final score of 45-0 in the Alamodome. After winning two straight games prior to their bye week, the Owls fell to 2-4 while the Roadrunners added to their undefeated season, sporting a 7-0 record. The most recent AP Top 25 Poll ranked UTSA as the 24th best team in college football after their win over the Owls on Saturday.