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Friday, December 09, 2022 — Houston, TX

Spitz’s school record highlights Swimming’s Senior Day

Photo courtesy Rice Athletics

By Cadan Hanson     11/9/22 12:19am

The Rice swim team had a lot to celebrate on Senior Day as they waved goodbye to the Tulane University Green Wave after Friday’s dual meet. In route to their 87 point victory (144-57), the first Rice victory in the American Athletic Conference as the swim team moved a year earlier than other sports, the Owls claimed gold in all 11 events and senior backstroker Zoe Spitz was able to put a bow on top of the day with a new school record. After the meet, head coach Seth Huston said he was pleased with the performance.

“It was a really strong showing today,” Huston said. “The girls showed up today and performed really well. I think [senior] Lauren McDougall really had some pretty phenomenal swims, [junior Imogen Meer’s] 200-yard [Individual Medley] really jumps out to me and obviously Zoe breaking the school record in the [200-yard backstroke] was great.”

Out of the nine individual victories, four of them were claimed by the senior class with McDougal winning both the 100 and 200-yard freestyle and senior Sini Koivu winning the 200-yard breaststroke. The final senior win came from Spitz’s 1:55.77 in the 200 back which was enough to surpass Ellery Parish’s school record from 2019 as well as smashing the NCAA’s“B standard” of 1:57.07, to put her in the selection pool for nationals. Going into Friday, Spitz said that she knew she was close to breaking the record but wasn’t focusing on it until Huston told her to put on a racing suit, typically reserved for big meets, 20 minutes before her race.

“At the last meet, I was close to a school record but… I was just going to swim this like every other 200 backstroke,” Spitz said. “I'm not going to add any additional pressure, it's my last home meet and last time to swim for Rice in front of a home crowd. When I touched the wall and I heard all the cheering it was a really cool moment because I hadn't looked at the board yet but I knew it was good.”

Before the Owls dominated in the pool, they were able to honor the 11 members of the senior class. Sophomore Arielle Hayon, who won the 50 free and 200-yard butterfly on Friday, said the senior’s leadership, support and impact made the moment emotional even for the underclassmen.

“I really love this class,” Hayon said. “They’ve had a really big impact on the team and a really big impact on me. Their commitment to the team is so clear; they’ve really set the tone for the culture. After the meet ended, I'm not going to lie, I was really sad but I know when it comes to conference, I'm gonna cry my eyes out because I'm gonna miss them so much.” 

Finally, for the seniors who have been with each other for the past four years, according to Spitz, the bond that they have created is something special that can never can be broken.

“[This class] means everything to me,” Spitz said. “We've been through so much together and they've been there for me like no other group of people I've ever met.  I could not have done any of the swimming I'm doing now without them. They've pulled me out from like my lowest points and just been great friends and teammates the whole way through.”

In two weeks,  the Owls travel to cross town to the University of Houston for the Phil Hansel Invitational. According to Hayon the team is excited for what the rest of the season holds.

“I'm really excited for how the team is going to do and I think the way we're swimming now is really really good,” Hayon said. “I think we're putting up good numbers and swimming well under a lot of hard training so I'm really excited to see what we can do.” 

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