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Owls finish third at AAC Swim Championships

Junior Amelia Kane, sophomore Ella Dyson and fifth-year senior Shannon Campbell placed first, second and third, respectively, in the 500-yard freestyle. The Owls placed third overall at the AAC Swim Championship. Courtesy Rice Athletics

By Cadan Hanson     2/27/24 10:51pm

Rice Swim competed in the American Athletic Conference Swimming and Diving Championships in Dallas last weekend. Out of the seven teams competing, Rice finished third overall, scoring a total of 593 points and improving on their fourth-place performance from last year. 

“This was the best conference meet for the Owls in years,” head coach Seth Huston said. “We did more with less this season, and this team grew an awful lot to finish like we did.”

Over the course of the weekend, the Owls tallied up five gold medals, 15 podium appearances and four school records. Leading the Owls’ charge was senior Imogen Meers, who won gold in the 50-yard freestyle, the 100-yard backstroke and the 100-yard freestyle, swimming a 48:80 which also secured a school record in the process.

“This season, I had definitely let myself think there was a possibility to go 3-for-3 at conference but I’m not actually sure I thought it would come true,” Meers said. “I wanted to win those races for myself, but definitely more for the team and for the girls that I race every single day in training. Even though swimming is an individual sport, it was a huge team effort.”

Following the triple crown performance, Huston expressed his pride in Meers’ performance and Rice career. 

“Coaching [Meers] has been an honor,” Huston said. “I hope our freshmen, sophomores and juniors understand that [Meers] showed us all season long how a champion prepares, competes and ultimately wins through the discipline of staying engaged in the process from start to finish.”

This weekend, the distance squad (D-group) made sure to cleaan up the competition, dominating the long-distance swimming events. 

In the 500-yard freestyle, Rice swept the podium with junior Amelia Kane winning gold with a time of 4:43:70, sophomore Ella Dyson coming in second and fifth-year senior Shannon Cambell in third. 

On Sunday, the Owls repeated the sweep in the 1,650-yard freestyle. This time around, Dyson claimed gold with a time of 16:21:98, with Kane coming in second and Campbell coming in third. After the meet, Kane, who also secured second in the 400-yard IM, was pleased with how the D-group’s hard work paid off with hardware and personal bests.

“The distance squad had a great meet, with everyone dropping personal bests and sweeping the podium in both the 500 and mile,” Kane said. “It’s exciting to win, but what’s more exciting is seeing my teammates swim so well.”

Junior Arielle Hayon, who is no stranger to the podium as the reigning champion in the 100 and 200-yard fly and a NCAA National Championship qualifier, also had a successful meet securing three medals and two school records. 

In the 200-yard Individual Medley relay, Hayon won silver with a time of 1:58:55, a school record. In the 100-yard butterfly, Hayon made it to the top of the podium, winning gold, resetting her school record and setting the meet record with a time of 51:38. To end her weekend, Hayon secured silver in the 200-yard butterfly.

The Owls made the podium in three of the relays, despite being disqualified in two others due to quick reaction times. In the 800-yard freestyle relay, Kane, Campbell, senior Elizabeth Myers and sophomore Lily Cramer placed second. In the 400-yard medley relay, senior Mimi Filkin, freshman Siiri Einio, Hayon and Meers claimed silver. In the final race of the competition, Meers, Filkin, Myers and Cramer finished third in the 400 hard freestyle relay.

For the seniors on the team, the AAC championships marked their last conference championships. Huston said they rose to the challenge, having the “best meet of their careers.”

Filkin reached the podium twice individually, placing third in the 100 yard backstroke and earning bronze in the 200 yard backstroke. Additionally, Myers set a personal record in all three individual events and medaled in two relays. 

“There was definitely something in the water for the seniors with a lot of us knowing this was our last conference championship at Rice,” Meers said. “You can definitely say as a class, we went out with a bang. Now that it’s over, it’s pretty surreal. This was the most emotional meet I’ve had so far in my career for sure. For it to go the way it did is a pretty good way to finish this chapter.” The conference meet does not mark the end of the season for the Rice swim team, which ranks No. 33 nationally in the Swim Cloud Rankings. Individuals will travel to compete in the CSCAA National Invitational March 14 and the NCAA National Championships starting March 20.

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