The Rice Swimming senior class had their careers ended earlier than they would have hoped, but they still managed some special moments in the pool.
Every so often a phenomenal young athlete steps on campus and turns heads. The once-in-a-lifetime type talent that wows everyone from the very start. For most members of the Rice swimming team, things don’t start that way. It’s a process, one that when followed to completion, leaves a satisfying reward for the swimmer and the program.
The culmination of years of focus is what made this senior class so special. As head coach Seth Huston described it, “It was just about them growing up.”
That development process shined through in their work ethic both in and out of the pool. “In a lot of ways they trained and raced better than they had throughout their career,” Huston said. “Honestly, they were their best [version of themselves].”
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It was that buy in and commitment to work that made them special. Sarah Nowaski, Harper Gillentine, Kate Nezelek and Claire Therien left their mark on Rice swimming in more ways than one.
In the water, these seniors were solid. The quarter was well decorated at the C-USA Championships alone. Nowaski placed third in the 400 IM. Gillentine was part of the 200 Free Relay team that finished second. Nezelek finished second in the 50 Free, 100 Free, 200 Free Relay and 400 Free. She also placed third in the 400 Medley Relay.
Therien’s story combines success with sweetness. The senior had never won an event entering in her career entering the final day of the Conference USA Championship. Then she got in the pool and swam the best race of her Rice career.
“She just got in there and kind of swam her race and came out on top in the end,” Huston said with pride. Therien’s moment encapsulated a career of hard work and served as the perfect summary of this senior class.
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