Courtesy: Liberty Athletics
Liberty will host BYU for the first time in any team sport, as the Liberty swimming & diving team hosts the All-American Celebration Meet, Friday and Saturday at the Liberty Natatorium. Friday’s action begins at 5 p.m. with men’s diving, with swimming events starting at 6 p.m. On Saturday, the first event will be at 11 a.m.
This weekend’s meet will feature men’s and women’s swimming & diving teams. Liberty’s women’s team will compete against BYU, Gardner-Webb and Old Dominion, while the men’s meet will include BYU, Gardner-Webb, Mount St. Mary’s and Old Dominion.
Liberty is 4-1 all-time against Gardner-Webb, having won each of the last four meetings. The Lady Flames are 1-0 against both BYU and Old Dominion, defeating BYU at the 2016 Intermountain Shootout and beating ODU at the 2014 Virginia Tech Swimming & Diving Challenge.
How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live results will be available for both days of this weekend’s meet both online and through meetmobile. Also, Friday’s women’s program will have live video streaming provided by LFSN.
The Liberty Natatorium will serve as the host site for the 2019 CCSA Swimming & Diving Championships, Feb. 20-23, 2019. It is one of the top collegiate swimming & diving venues in the nation. Located beneath the LU monogram at the base of Liberty Mountain, the facility features a nine-lane, 50-meter pool with a movable bulkhead. A separate 17-foot-deep diving well includes 1- and 3-meter springboards and a three-column tower, featuring 1, 3, 5, 7.5 and 10-meter platforms. The facility has a seating capacity of 1,414 with wraparound, three-sided bowl seating along the 25-yard racing portion of the pool.
Prior to Friday’s first swimming event, Liberty will honor its two swimming All-Americans (Brye Ravettine, 2012; Jess Reinhardt, 2014). Ravettine was Liberty’s first All-American and first NCAA national competitor in program history, finishing in 13th place in the 50 freestyle at the 2012 NCAA Championships. Reinhardt posted the best NCAA finish to date in program history, placing 10th in the 100 fly at the 2014 NCAA Championships. Both Ravettine (22.19 – 50 free) and Reinhardt (51.72 – 100 fly) still hold program records.
Liberty has posted a 5-0 record all-time at the Liberty Natatorium, which opened Dec. 1, 2017. Overall, the Lady Flames have won their last 13 home dual meets in a row.
Liberty’s CCSA Weekly Honorees (2018-19)
CCSA Swimmer of the Week – Fr. Gianni Pitto (Oct. 2, 2018)
Liberty has the top performances in the CCSA this season in the following events:
One-meter diving (6) – 259.65 (Olivia Robinson)
100 backstroke – 55.80 (Brittany Weiss)
200 backstroke – 2:00.04 (Payton Keiner)
100 breaststroke – 1:04.26 (Gianni Pitto)
200 butterfly – 2:02.00 (Alicia Finnigan)
• Liberty earned its first win at James Madison in four tries, downing the defending CAA champion Dukes, 160.5-139.5, last Saturday at Savage Natatorium.
• The Lady Flames have now won 12 dual meets in a row, dating back to the Gardner-Webb Tri Meet on Oct. 27, 2017.
• Liberty has finished second at the CCSA Swimming & Diving Championships six times in the last seven years, with its lone CCSA title to date coming in 2014.
• Ninth-year Head Coach Jake Shellenberger has led the Lady Flames from the program’s inception. He has posted an 88-30 dual-meet record, twice being named CCSA Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year. His teams have gone 48-14 all-time against CCSA competition.
• Liberty has added its largest incoming class since the first year of the program, bringing in 14 new student-athletes (10 swimmers, four divers). This includes 11 freshmen, along with transfers Mikayla Herich (Ohio), Emily Zimcosky (Ohio) and Arielle Arnett (Oakland).
• Five Lady Flames earned CSCAA Scholar All-America honors last season. Alicia Finnigan and Payton Keiner were named to the first team, while Hannah Baker, Kiah Francis and Brittany Weiss received honorable mention.
• Eight current Lady Flames have posted CCSA podium finishes in their career, led by Alicia Finnigan with seven. Hannah Baker has earned three top-three finishes, while Brittany Weiss and Payton Keiner have two podium finishes each. Lindsey Cohee, Colleen Donlin, Kiah Francis and Emily Manly have each posted one podium finish.
• Freshman Olivia Robinson set new program records in both one-meter (259.65) and three-meter (265.06) diving, Saturday at James Madison. Lauren Chennault is second in program history in three-meter diving (260.40), while Abigail Egolf Jensen in second in one-meter diving (243.08).
• Freshman Gianni Pitto has won all eight of her individual-event swims so far this season, winning both the 100 breaststroke and 200 breaststroke three times and claiming the 400 IM twice.
• Junior Brittany Weiss won the 100 back in 55.80 at JMU. She has won the 100 backstroke each of the last 11 meets she has contested the event, highlighted by the 2017 Frank Elm Invite, 2018 CCSA Championships and 2018 Liberty Last Chance Meet.
• Junior Colleen Donlin has won the 50 freestyle in each of Liberty’s last five dual meets, a streak that started on Jan. 20, 2018.
• Defending CCSA Women’s Swimmer of the Year Alicia Finnigan has won the 200 fly in all three traditional dual meets this season.
• Sophomore Payton Keiner returns after earning 2018 Most Outstanding Freshman of the CCSA Meet honors. She won the 200 back and finished second in the 100 back at the CCSA Championships, and went on to compete in both events at the NCAA national meet. She holds the CCSA record in the 200 back (1:53.68).
• Three Liberty newcomers, transfer Mikayla Herich (1000 free) and freshmen Gianni Pitto (100 breaststroke, 200 breaststroke, 400 IM) and Emma Hazel (200 back) won in their Liberty debut at Campbell. Fellow newcomers, transfers Emily Zimcosky (Ohio) and Arielle Arnett (Oakland) earned their first victories as Lady Flames at New Mexico State.
• Senior Alicia Finnigan was named the NCAA ELITE 90 Award winner, for having the top GPA at the 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships. Finnigan also earned Google Cloud At-Large Academic All-America second team honors.
• Finnigan, the 2018 CCSA Women’s Swimmer of the Year, won the 200 fly at the CCSA Championships for the second year in a row before making her second straight appearance at the NCAA Championships.
• Weiss repeated as CCSA champion in the 100 back last season, winning in program-record 52.81. She was named the 2017 Most Outstanding Freshman of the CCSA Meet.
• Sophomore Kiah Francis set the program 400 IM record at 4:18.70, taking second in the event at the CCSA meet.
• Liberty, Gardner-Webb, Mount St. Mary’s (men’s) and Old Dominion (men’s) will be back at the Liberty Natatorium Feb. 20-23 for the 2019 CCSA Swimming & Diving Championships, the first time a conference school has hosted the event.
• Liberty and Gardner-Webb finished second and third, in that order, at the 2018 CCSA Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships.
• Old Dominion and Gardner-Webb placed second and third, respectively, at the 2018 CCSA Men’s Swimming & Diving Championships.
• BYU is the first MPSF opponent to compete at the Liberty Natatorium. The BYU women’s team finished fifth at the 2018 MPSF Championships, while the BYU men placed third.
Order of Events
Oct. 26, 2018
Men’s 3M diving (5 p.m. Start)
All Other Events Starting at 6 p.m.
200 Medley Relay
Women’s 3M Diving
200 Freestyle Relay
Oct. 27, 2018
400 Medley Relay
(Women’s 1M / Men’s 1M / Women’s Platform / Men’s Platform – concurrent with competition)
400 Freestyle Relay
Liberty will next compete at Marshall, Nov. 9-10 at Marshall’s Frederick A. Fitch Natatorium in Huntington, W.Va. The Lady Flames are 4-0 all-time against the Thundering Herd, defeating Marshall in back-to-back weeks last season.