The first day of the Conference USA Swimming & Diving Championships showed a couple of things hadn't changed much from the Sun Belt Championships.
1. The live stats ran on Miami time. Hours after the swimmers left the pool and finished demolishing dinner, the live stats said the last completed event was the men's 1-meter diving, the third of Wednesday's five events.
2. Johanna Gustafsdottir is still FIU's best swimmer, possibly the best FIU swimmer ever.
FIU finished second in the 800 freestyle relay to Rice by 1.14 seconds, 7:12.29 to 7:13.43, with Gustafsdottir leading off with a 1:46.9 leg, knocking 1.1 seconds off her school record, set at last year's Sun Belt meet. Leadoff times in the 800 free relay can be used as 200 free times for record purposes.
One of the two relays I thought FIU would take turned into a tremendous group duel with Rice. Gustafsdottir finished her leg second to Rice's Casey Clark by a breath, 0.26 seconds. Sophomore Becky Wilde knocked a millimeter, 0.05 seconds, off the margin. Senior Sonia Perez Arau pushed FIU into a narrow lead in the middle 50s of her leg before handing junior Nadia Farrugia a virtual match race, a 0.05 deficit, with Rice senior Karina Wlostowska, an ace anchor for the Owls the last two years. What little margin Wlostowska came home with she got in the third 50, which she left with a 1.12 second lead.
While the 800 relay finished exactly where seeded, the 200 medley relay came home seventh in 1:43.93. To be fair, the relay team that swam the fourth-best seed time of 1:42.76 -- Gustafsdottir, junior Klara Andersson, freshman Jennifer Alfani and freshman Jenny Deist -- at the Mizzou Invite in November wasn't Wednesday's C-USA team. This time, Alfani was the leadoff backstroker, instead of backstroke motorboat Gustafsdottir, and freshman Therese Nord was on butterfly, where Alfani, this year's fastest butterflier, had been.
Rice won that relay, too, at 1:39.33.