Flames' men swim to third-place finish at Rutgers regionals
November 4, 2018 | Piscataway, N.J.
The 10 Liberty University men's swimmers who competed in the first Collegiate Club Swimming (CCS) Eastern Regional meet, Saturday and Sunday at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., made a huge splash, finishing third out of 16 schools and many of the region's fastest individual swimmers.
"It was amazing," Flames Head Coach Heath Grishaw said. "The quality of swimmers we have this year is definitely a step up from last year. We were blown away."
With 466 points, Liberty placed behind only men's teams from UConn (592.5) and Penn State (497.5), and ahead of Virginia (451.5) in a tight four-team race. Other schools in the field included Syracuse (270), William & Mary (230), Rowan (208), JMU (202), George Mason (208), and Stony Brook (163). Factoring in the women's scores, Liberty was still in fifth place, even though it was the only school without women's club swimmers.
"We did phenomenally well and swam to our best potential," Grishaw said. "The way these guys performed has raised the bar and set some pretty high goals for the rest of the season. We are excited about going to (the March 29-21 CCS National Championships) at Ohio State, where I'd like to see us turn some heads like we did this weekend."
|Charles Fernandez celebrates his 200 freestyle victory.|
Individually, Charles Fernandez, a junior pentathlete from Guatemala competing for the first time this fall, won his specialty event, the 200 freestyle, in 1:47.83 and finished fifth in the 50 free in 22.52 and sixth in the 100 free in 48.95. He also anchored the Flames' winning 80 free relay (7:25.30), following freshmen Caleb McClelland, Jonathan McAlister, and Christian Brasher; its second-place 400 free relay (3:20.20), following McClelland, Brasher, and fellow freshman Dan Flittner; and its fifth-place 200 free relay (1:30.83) following McClelland, Flittner, and fellow freshman Caleb Rice.
Liberty's 200 medley relay team of sophomore Blake Dunson (backstroke), freshman Hunter Bechtel (breaststroke), Fernandez (butterfly), and McClelland (free) placed fourth in 1:43.67.
The Flames' same foursome finished third in the 400 medley relay in 3:53.31, with Fernandez and McClelland switching strokes. McClelland also won the 500 free in 4:51.33, finished fourth in the 100 free in 48.58, and fourth in the 100 IM in 58.45. He has now qualified for nationals in the 50, 100, 200, and 500 free and the 100 IM.
Flittner, a transfer from Findlay (Ohio), returned from injury to set personal best times in every event he swam, including the 50-yard freestyle (seventh in 22.99 seconds), 50 breast stroke (seventh in 30.29), and 100 free. (19th in 51.58).
|Blake Dunson (center) is set to take off in the backstroke.|
Dunson placed third in the 100 back in 57:12, fourth in the 50 back in 26.16, and fifth in the 200 back in 2:09.92 while Brasher finished runner-up in the 1,000 free in 10:45.29 — one place in front of McAlister (third in 11:01.56) — and fourth in the 500 free in 5:00.07.
McAlister also placed seventh in the 200 free in 1:57.25 and Rice finished eighth in the 100 fly in 1:01.41 and ninth in the 200 free in 2:00.80.
The Flames will compete this Saturday and Sunday at another CCS meet at North Carolina State while their diving team will host Duke in their first competition in Liberty's Natatorium on Saturday at 9 a.m.