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Owls sink against UH

Courtesy Rice Athletics

By Shiyu Miao     2/9/21 10:05pm

Rice swimming lost their first dual-meet of the calendar year last week, falling to the University of Houston 168.5 to 91.5. The Owls failed to capture first place in a single race during the meet, but there were still some bright spots, according to head coach Seth Huston. Senior Ellery Parish took second place in the 500-yard freestyle, and sophomore Madison Howe claimed second in the 100-yard butterfly. 

"Solid performances today," Huston said. "It was great to see Ellery swim at a high level, it shows the work she has put in is paying off.”

Parish’s 4:52.32 in 500-yard freestyle earned her a new season-best and was the fastest score in Conference USA so far this season. If that holds, it would earn her the top seed in the event at the C-USA championship later this month. Parish said she treats every game as a new opportunity to improve her strategies.

“I'm a middle distance and distance swimmer,” said Parish. “So there's a lot of strategy in that. Every single meet is a learning opportunity, and this one is no different. Am I executing my race strategy appropriately? What I'm doing better? Am I swimming smarter? Not harder?”

Howe’s time of 53.80 in the 100-yard butterfly was the fastest time recorded in C-USA this season. She also won second place in 50-freestyle with a time of 23.43. Howe said she was pleased with her performance on Wednesday.

“The competition on Wednesday was really good,” said Howe. “The lesson I took away from that is just, I need to have more faith in the process. And to trust that when you get up behind the blocks, you've done enough work and that you can race fast anyway.”

In addition to the race, Parish thought the team was focused on the right things: executing their individual race strategies and preparing for the conference meet. 

“I was really impressed with [how] everybody showed up and executed their race strategies,” Parish said. “[We had] a good positive attitude and worked on fine tuning things as we get closer to conference.”

Consistent with last semester, COVID-19 still remains a challenge for the whole team. Huston said that November was especially tough, as the team dealt with a number of COVID-19 cases, but the students are trying hard to adapt to “the new norm.”

“We're really lucky because we do get to be outdoors, so the risk is slightly decreased,” said Parish. “But when we do our cardio work or calisthenics outside of the pool, we wear masks for that in the weighting room, which took some to get used to. But it's for the safety of everybody, and particularly when you're indoors.”

Now the team sets its eyes on the C-USA Championship that will take place on Feb. 24 in Atlanta, GA. According to Huston, last week’s meet served as a good barometer as the season winds to a close.

“We learned that we are in a good place with three weeks till our conference championships,” Huston said. “As a coach, I need to be sure we recover and sharpen our performances and as athletes the team needs to take care of their health and stay on top of school.”

Part of that recovery is tapering, which, as Howe explained, is the process of reducing the time spent in the pool so the team is more rested for their upcoming meets.

“Our plan is just to be well rested, be well trained, and get up and race as fast as we can for the season,” Howe said.

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