5 Swimmers to Watch at the 2018 Conference USA Championships

17 October 2015: FIU's Chase Harris competes in the 200 yard breaststroke as the FIU Golden Panthers defeated the University of Miami Hurricanes on day 2 of the FIU Dual-A-Palooka Swim Meet at the Gulliver Preparatory Aquatic Center in Miami, Florida.
Photo Courtesy: Sam Lewis

The 2018 Conference USA Swimming and Diving Championships will take place Feb. 21-24 at the McCauley Aquatic Center in Atlanta. Last year, Florida International won the team title, followed by Rice and Marshall.

Click here for the psych sheet.

1. Alicia Caldwell

Rice’s Alicia Caldwell is the top seed in the 100 back, 200 free and 500 free. Last year at this meet, she finished fourth in the 200 free and third in the 100 back and will look to win her second-straight conference title in the 200 back. She’s also seeded second in the 100 free, but will only be allowed to swim three individual races. She’ll aim to make the podium in whichever three events she chooses to swim and will be a crucial leg to the Owls’ relays.

2. Letizia Bertelli

Florida International’s Letizia Bertelli is also the top seed in three events. She’s seeded with a quick 22.47 in the 50 free, not too far off of her winning time of 22.34 from 2017. She’s currently the only Conference USA swimmer to have cracked the 50-second barrier in the 100 free, entering the meet with a time of 49.54, only a few tenths slower than her 49.15 she won with last year. She’ll look to make the top of the podium in the 100 fly after finishing second last year and will play a key role in her team’s relays.

3. Kaitlyn Swinney

Kaitlyn Swinney has had a stellar senior season so far and will look to keep her momentum going. She leads a stacked Rice 200 back group: she’s the top seed in the event with a time of 1:58.01, faster than the 1:58.66 she posted for fourth place last year. As the second seed in the 200 IM, Swinney’s entry time is three seconds faster than her seventh-place showing last year. The senior will aim to repeat as champion in the 400 IM as she inches closer to the meet record to finish her senior year with a bang.

4. Spence Atkins

After transferring from Tennessee, Florida Atlantic’s Spence Atkins will surely make a splash at her first Conference USA Championships. The sophomore is the top seed in both the 1650 free and 200 fly has the second fastest entry time in the 500 free. She’s the top seed in the mile by 18 seconds and will make a run for the conference record in the event set back in 2006.

5. Marie-Claire Schillinger

Last year, Rice’s Marie-Claire Schillinger broke the Conference USA record in the 100 breaststroke. Heading into this weekend, the junior is seeded first in the event with a time of 1:00.06—faster than her 2017 time—and will aim to lower her mark again and break the one-minute barrier. She’ll seek to sweep both breaststroke events again for the second-straight year, and with a 200 breast entry time faster than her 2017 gold-medal performance, she’s in a good position to do so.