The Liberty swimming & diving team enters the 2016-17 season with a talented lineup, aiming for its second conference title and first since 2014. The Lady Flames finished second at the 2016 CCSA Championships, the fourth runner-up finish in program history.
The 2016-17 season begins on Saturday, as the Lady Flames head to Buies Creek, N.C., to face CCSA opponent Campbell, with the meet set to begin at 1 p.m. at Johnson Aquatic Center.
This is the third year in a row, and fifth time in program history, that Liberty has opened its swimming & diving season against Campbell. Liberty holds a 7-2 record all-time versus the Camels, winning the last seven meetings in a row.
Last year, Liberty swept a pair of meets from the Camels, including a 171-129 victory in Buies Creek on Sept. 26, 2015. The Lady Flames then downed Campbell, 162-107, on Jan. 15 at LaHaye Aquatics Center.
During the 2015-16 season, the Lady Flames went 8-5, including a 5-1 record against CCSA foes. The Lady Flames highlighted their season with a victory at TCU, its first win over a Big-12 team. Liberty has now posted a win against one team from each of the Power 5 conferences.
The Lady Flames earned their highest national rankings to date, listed 26th in the CollegeSwimming.com Team Rankings and No. 4 in the CollegeSwimming.com Mid-Major Rankings on Oct. 6, 2015.
Liberty is set for its final home meet at LaHaye Aquatics Center this season, hosting Campbell on Jan. 20. Construction is continuing on a brand new, state-of-the-art Olympic-sized pool with a separate diving well, which is scheduled to be ready for the 2017-18 academic year.
Head Coach Jake Shellenberger returns for his seventh season at the helm, guiding the program since the inaugural 2010-11 campaign. He has posted a 63-26 dual-meet record, twice being named CCSA Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year.
Liberty made the podium in every event on day four at the 2016 CCSA Championships. On the meet as a whole, the Lady Flames posted 16 podium finishes (11 individual, five relay), nine NCAA B cuts and three program records.
The Lady Flames graduated seven-time CCSA podium finisher Kendall Hough, who owns three program records. Liberty also lost Natalie Beale, program record holder in the 200 free and the first CoSIDA Academic All-American in program history. Also among 2016 graduates were: Hannah Wakeley (program record holder in 1,000 free and 1,650 free) and three-time podium finisher Kristin VanDeventer.
Sophomore Alicia Finnigan returns after a successful year that culminated with an appearance at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, where she competed in the 200-meter butterfly. Her second-place finish in the CCSA 200 fly (NCAA B cut 1:59.53) places her second in program history in that event. She also made the podium at the CCSA Championships in the 100 fly and 500 free.
Senior Victoria Tschoke is the Lady Flames’ lone senior on the 2016-17 roster. She earned her first career conference podium finish, taking runner-up in the 200 backstroke in NCAA B cut time of 1:58.11 in 2016. Tschoke is a two-time CSCAA Scholar All-America honorable mention selection. She ranks second in program history in the 200 backstroke.
Prudence Rooker earned her first two conference medals last season, taking second in the 100 breaststroke in B cut time of 1:02.09 before finishing third in the 200 breaststroke. She is ranked second in program history in the 200 breaststroke, 100 IM and 200 IM.
Rachel Hoeve returns after earning her first NCAA B cut and podium finish at the 2016 CCSA Championships. She took third in the CCSA 50 free A final in 22.99, good for sixth-best 50 free in program history.
Sophomore Brooke Fox had a record-setting freshman campaign in 2015-16. A two-time CCSA Diver of the Week honoree, Fox set program records in one-meter diving (236.93) and three-meter diving (224.75).
The Lady Flames welcome eight student-athletes to the team this season, including six freshmen. Sophomore transfer Delia Weber joins the Liberty roster after breaking Houston’s 1000 freestyle (9:58.42) and 1,650 freestyle (16:32.75) records last season at Houston. Several Liberty freshmen are projected for top-8 times at the 2017 CCSA Championships.
Liberty returns 12 student-athletes who scored points at the 2016 CCSA Championships. Among Liberty’s returnees, Alicia Finnigan (100 fly, 200 fly, 500 free), Brooke Fox (one-meter diving, three-meter diving), Ricki Lee Hodges (50 free), Rachel Hoeve (50 free, 100 free), Morgan Noonan (200 breaststroke), Chelsea Pond (200 free), Prudence Rooker (100 breaststroke, 200 breaststroke, 200 IM) and Victoria Tschoke (100 back, 200 back, 200 IM) all earned top-eight placings at last year’s league meet. Additionally, Delia Weber placed fourth in the 1,650 free and fifth in the 500 free at the 2016 American Athletic Conference Championships while at Houston.
Campbell posted a fifth-place finish at the 2016 CCSA Championships, edging out Incarnate Word with 715 points to earn the program’s best-ever conference championship score and placing. The Camels set four program records at last season’s conference championship meet, including the 200 free relay and 400 free relay. The team went 7-5 in dual meets last season, including 5-2 against CCSA foes.
Geena Squartino returns after earning top-eight CCSA finishes in the 1,650 free (4th ) and 500 free (8th) last season. Madison Scott, the sixth-place finisher in the 200 fly at the 2016 CCSA Championships, is Campbell’s program record holder in the event, at 2:02.53. Caroline Clark holds the program record in the 100 fly (55.17), placing eighth at the 2016 conference meet. Michelle Case set team standards for both the 50 free (23.61) and 100 free (51.70).
Following Saturday’s meet, Liberty will travel to Colorado for the first time in program history. The Lady Flames will compete in the Intermountain Shootout, hosted by Colorado Mesa in Grand Junction, Colo. While in Colorado, Liberty will face the host Mavericks, along with Utah, BYU and Air Force.
Order of Events
- 200 Medley Relay
- 1000 Freestyle
- 200 Freestyle
- 100 Backstroke
- 100 Breaststroke
- 200 Butterfly
- 50 Freestyle
- 100 Individual Medley
15 Minute Break
- 100 Freestyle
- 200 Backstroke
- 200 Breaststroke
- 500 Freestyle
- 100 Butterfly
10 Minute Break
- 200 Individual Medley
- 200 Freestyle Relay
Courtesy of LibertyFlames.com