Houston, Texas – In the first of three sessions at the Rice Invitational, the University of Arkansas swimming and diving team jumped out to a 118-point lead over four opponents, winning three out of five events and setting three facility records at the Rice Aquatics Center.
Arkansas compiled 335 points on the day. Boise State is in second place with 217, Rice third with 199, Nebraska fourth with 167, and Houston fifth with 83.
Despite cool temperatures at the outdoor Rice Aquatics Center, the Razorbacks got off to a hot start. Arkansas’ A relay team of Haley Smith, Nikki Daniels, Katie Whitbeck and Susanna White won the 400 medley relay with a time of 3:48.67, setting the first facility record of the day. The Razorbacks’ B team of Liz Braun, Julia Banach, Lisa Lunkenheimer and Aubrey Hertzler placed third with a time of 3:53.66.
The next event was the 500 freestyle, and Arkansas submitted its most dominating performance of the day. Nicole Menzel was the first to finish, clocking a time of 4:50.85 for yet another facility record. Razorbacks Chelsea Franklin and Sigrun Sverrisdottir took second and third place in the 500 free with respective times of 4:52.16 and 4:52.27.
"I was pleased with the way the girls started out the meet," said Coach Poppell. "They did a great job in the 400 medley relay to lead off the meet and the 500 freestyles were excellent as well."
Arkansas’ third facility record came in the 800 freestyle relay when its A team of Menzel, Sverrisdottir, Jillienne Schilling and Whitbeck finished first with a time of 7:29.77. The group’s time was a season-best for Arkansas by more than seven seconds.
Susanna White, Jillienne Schilling and Haley Smith competed in the 200 IM and raced to the finish, placing second, third and fourth respectively. White’s time was 2:07.03, Schilling’s 2:07.20, and Smith’s 2:07.65.
White also raced in the 50 freestyle for the first time of her career, placing third with a time of 24.07.
Arkansas competed outdoors for the first time this year, and was greeted by 60-degree, windy conditions. Coach Poppell mentioned that focus in warm-ups and cool-downs becomes even more important with cold weather and an outdoor meet.
"It was in the 50’s and pretty windy out here for an outdoor competition," Coach Poppell said. "There are ways we can overcome it, we just have to be smart in what we do."
Arkansas hopes to continue its success in sessions two and three on Saturday. Session two begins at 9 a.m. and will feature the 200 medley relay, 400 IM, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke, 200 freestyle relay and 1,650 freestyle. Session three begins at 1:30 p.m. and will feature the 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, 200 butterfly, and 400 freestyle relay.
Arkansas’ divers will compete in the three meter and one meter dive starting at 11 a.m. at the University of Houston.
For more information about Razorback swimming and diving, please log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.