Liberty takes over the No. 15 ranking in the mid-major polls after defeating Vanderbilt and West Florida
The Liberty Lady Flames swimming and diving team (6-4, 1-0) hopes to continue riding their momentum to the Davidson Duals Swim Meet after its dominating performance in a Jan. 18 meet against Vanderbilt and West Florida. The Lady Flames came in first place in eight of the 16 events in the competition.
Senior Emilie Kaufman finished first in three of the four events she competed in, including the women’s 200 medley relay.
“In the pool, I’ve definitely become a stronger athlete emotionally,” Kaufman said. “My head is in my races more. … “I’m a more positive swimmer, and I think I can credit a lot of that to (Head Coach Jake Shellenberger).”
Sophomore Jess Reinhardt and Junior Meghan Babcock also contributed to both relay wins. Reinhardt won the women’s 100 butterfly and finished second in the women’s 200 butterfly. Babcock too had success, as she won the women’s 50 freestyle while finishing second in the 100 freestyle.
Shellenberger said he was pleased with his team’s performance after having not competed in nearly two months. The Vanderbilt meet took place Jan. 18, while Liberty’s previous meet took place Nov. 23.
“In practice, we did a lot of different things to simulate racing,” Shellenberger said. “You can stand up on the blocks and dive as much as you want and work on specific race details as much as you want, but it’s kind of like football and basketball — it’s not game speed. …You really have to race to get back into racing shape.”
Shellenberger has coached the team for four years now, and the Lady Flames have progressed each year during his tenure. Under Shellenberger, the Lady Flames have a 39-17 record.
Shellenberger is also doing what he can to have a direct, positive impact on his team.
Liberty will face Davidson University (6-2), Howard University (0-11, 0-2), and Georgia Southern University (5-1, 2-0) Friday, Jan. 31. Shellenberger was confident that his team’s recent victory would motivate them in the future.
“(The victory) helps a lot,” Shellenberger said. “Athletes compete not because they love to practice. They do it because they love to race. … Competition is why we do it. We don’t train to train. We train to race.”