Club Sports to launch men's swimming & diving next fall
January 4, 2017 | Lynchburg, Va.
Looking to make a splash in the new natatorium when it opens Nov. 1, Liberty University's Club Sports department will add men's swimming & diving as two of several new offerings next fall.
The Flames will train and compete out of the new natatorium, connected to the new Liberty Indoor Track Complex located beneath the LU monogram at the base of Liberty Mountain. The facility, replacing the LaHaye Aquatics Center, will enable both the men's club team and NCAA Division I women's team to host large-scale meets attracting high-level swimmers.
"There's been a lot of male students interested in swimming for Liberty," Club Sports Athletic Director Kirk Handy said. "Now that we'll have a facility that's one of the best in the nation, it definitely sets it up to be a very successful program."
Handy will announce the hiring of swimming & diving coaches this week to allow the team time to build a recruiting base of 20-25 student-athletes to launch the new program in the fall.
|This is a rendering of what the new natatorium, currently under construction connected to the new Liberty Indoor Track Complex, will look like when completed next fall..|
Liberty will compete as a member of the American Swimming Association, the governing body for club swimming in the United States. As with men's and women's cycling, the latest Club Sports added in the fall of 2015, the Flames will schedule regular-season meets against many club-level teams from Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) universities such as Virginia and Virginia Tech as well as Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) schools like James Madison and Richmond. The season will run from October through April, when swimmers will have the opportunity to race in regional and national championship meets.
Ohio State, Florida, and Colorado finished first, second and third, respectively, at last year's club nationals. Florida and Colorado have been in the top three for the past five years, with Penn State and Missouri also among the top contenders. Georgia Tech, which placed third in 2011, will host this spring's national championships in Atlanta.
The men's swimming program will complement Liberty's men's and women's triathlon teams, coached by former Flames track runner and triathlete Parker Spencer, which will also train out of the new natatorium and indoor track complex. Spencer sees the advantages of having swimming and cycling teams to help develop well-rounded student-athletes.
"The triathlon team has benefited from the addition of the cycling team and the cycling team has benefited from having more cyclists to be able to train with from the triathlon team," he said. "The same thing will be true with the swim team. We have some really strong swimmers on the triathlon team, including Thomas (Sonnery-Cottet) and Sam Blackman. So having triathletes train alongside the swimmers, when it's appropriate, will strengthen both teams."