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Swimming & Diving Announces Addition of 7 Student-Athletes

January 3, 2014
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Clockwise from top right: Chelsea Pond, Ashlee Sall, Rachel Wasko, Sarah Browning and Rachel Rippey, five out of seven members of Liberty's incoming 2014-15 swimming & diving class.

Liberty swimming & diving head coach Jake Shellenberger has announced the addition of seven student-athletes to the Lady Flames' swimming & diving program. Sarah Browning, Rachel Hoeve, Chelsea Pond, Rachel Rippey, Prudence Rooker, Ashlee Sall and Rachel Wasko have all signed commitments to attend Liberty starting in the 2014-15 academic year.

"Assistant coach Jessica Barnes has put together a fantastic fall signing class, and we are both extremely excited about this new generation of Liberty student-athletes," Shellenberger said. "They are all a great fit for Liberty – many had offers from other fine Division I institutions, but were drawn to the unique atmosphere of big-time swimming and a Christian environment that only Liberty can provide." 

Shellenberger added, "All seven are ready, from an academic standpoint, for the rigors of being a Division I student-athlete, and we expect them to continue their great academic marks from high school. They are also physically talented, with three standing over six feet tall. With our strength training program and in-water training, their improvement at the college level will be swift, and their long term improvement fun to watch. We are excited to welcome them to Liberty this fall."

Name: Sarah Browning
Hometown: Mechanicsville, Va.
High School: Hanover High School          
High School Coach: Stuart Bernstein
Club: Burkwood Aquatic Club (BAC)
Club Coach: Craig Clift
Intended Major: Undecided
Honors and Highlights: 
Four-time state qualifier
VHSL Academic All-Regional Team
Eastern Zones Team
Sectional qualifier
Holds numerous high school and club records
Best Times: 400IM SCY - 4:31.5; 400 IM LCM - 5:09.03; 500 Free SCY - 5:04.79; 400 Free LCM - 4:35.37; 1000 Free SCY - 10:30.95; 1650 Free SCY – 17:56.56
Quote from Browning: "As soon as I went on my trip to Liberty I knew it would be the place I could achieve my goals in and out of the pool. I love what Jake and Jessica are striving to do with the team and it is a great Division I program. I knew I wanted to be a part of it from the beginning."
Quote from Shellenberger: "Sarah comes from a fantastic club program in Burkwood Aquatic Club, and we're excited to welcome a local student-athlete as we aim to build our in-state recruiting over the next few years.  Sarah will provide an immediate impact in the distance events, and with her height and training background, we feel she will improve greatly at the college level." 

Name: Rachel Hoeve
Hometown: Zeeland, Mich.
High School: Zeeland West
High School Coach: Mathew Ray
Club: West Michigan Swimmers
Club Coach: Chris Hamstra
Intended Major: Undecided
Honors and Highlights:
Part of an All-American 200 medley relay.
Three time all-state member and four time all-conference selection
Holds the record for the 500 free at Zeeland West High School.
Best Times: 200 free SCY – 1:53.59; 500 free – 5:01.80; 1000 free – 10:43.14
Quote from Hoeve: "I'm excited to start college, especially since it is at Liberty. I love the campus and everyone, including the team and coaches, are so nice. I can't wait to see what happens in the coming years."
Quote from Shellenberger:  "Rachel, another Michigan product, had a breakthrough high school season this fall and is just scratching the surface of her potential. She will provide depth to our mid-distance freestyle group and can swim anything from the 50 to the 1650 free. Her club and high school coaches have done a great job in preparing her for college swimming, and at 6-0, we feel her best days are certainly ahead of her. More importantly, Rachel is a fantastic fit for Liberty University and will add tremendously to the character of our program and university." 

Name: Chelsea Pond
Hometown: Fairfield, Conn.
High School: Fairfield Warde high school
High School Coach: George Palmgren
Club: Shoreline Elite Aquatics
Club Coach: Scott VanKuilenburg
Honors and Highlights:
All-FCIAC and all-state member
Holder of three school records.
Best Times: 50 Free SCY – 24.19; 100 Free SCY – 52.58; 200 Free SCY – 1:55.57
Quote from Pond: "I really felt at home when I went to Liberty. The school's atmosphere, combined with the amazing swim program made me realize the school is perfect for me. I can't wait to be there this fall."
Quote from Shellenberger: "Chelsea continues our tradition of tall sprinters here at Liberty, and at 6-1 will fit right in with our sprint freestyle crew. She will make an immediate impact in the short distance events and will compete for relay spots her freshman year. Her coaches at Shoreline Aquatics and Fairfield Warde High have done a tremendous job with her, and we will look to her to lead us as we aim to continue the early relay success we have had here at LU. Chelsea is a great fit for Liberty and we are excited to welcome her to the Liberty family."

Name: Rachel Rippey
Hometown: Sparta, N.J.
High School: Sparta High School
Club: Lakeland Hills YMCA
Club Coach: Matt Elko
Intended Major: Undecided
Honors and Highlights:
Four-year varsity letterwinner
High school record holder
YMCA Nationals qualifier
National Honor Society
Principal's Scholar Honor Roll,
Best Times: 50 free – 25.09; 100 free – 54.36; 100 back – 59.29
Quote from Rippey: "I chose Liberty because it's where I felt God was leading me to go, and I fell in love with the school's environment and atmosphere. I'm so blessed that Liberty also has an outstanding swimming program with great coaches. It was the perfect package."
Quote from Shellenberger: "Rachel continues our New Jersey tradition, and will provide depth in the sprint freestyle and stroke events. She is an excellent student and a fantastic fit for Liberty. Lakeland Hills has prepared her well for swimming at the college level, and we are excited to have her at LU." 

Name: Prudence Rooker
Hometown: Forest Grove, Ore.
High School: Forest Grove High School
High School Coach: Tabor Waterstreet  
Club: Tualatin Hills Swim Club
Club Coach: Linck Bergen
Intended Major: Undecided
Honors and Highlights: 
OSI state champion
OSAA state champion
Junior National and National qualifier
National Honor Society member
Best Times:  50 free SCY – 23.61; 100 free SCY – 51.16; 200 free SCY – 1:50.81; 100 Breast SCY – 1:02.74; 200 Breast SCY – 2:19.09; 200 IM SCY – 2:04.16; 50 free LCM – 26.61; 100 free LCM – 57.72; 200 free LCM – 2:05.74; 100 breast LCM – 1:13.18; 200 breast LCM – 2:42.02; 200 IM LCM – 2:22.05
Quote from Rooker: "I'm so thrilled to be able to attend Liberty next fall. It's exciting to get the opportunity to be a part of a fairly new Division I swimming program and I know it was the right choice for me as a student and an athlete. Liberty is somewhere that I know I can grow as a person."
Quote from Shellenberger:  "Prudence is a highly versatile student-athlete and a top 150 recruit, coming in with four top-8 conference times. Her club program at Tualatin Hills has produced quite a few Division I swimmers over the years, and we are excited to welcome our first ever Oregon recruit to Liberty. Prudence will provide an immediate impact in the sprint freestyle and breaststroke events as we graduate several sprinters this year."

Name: Ashlee Sall
Hometown: Holland, Mich.
High School: Holland Christian
High School Coach: Benjamin Herrman
Club: Michigan Lakeshore Aquatics
Club Coach: Troy Emmons
Intended Major: Nursing
Honors and Highlights: 
State champion in 200 free for Division III
Placed 3rd in 100 free at state meet
Swam at state meet all 4 years of high school
High school record holder in 200 free, 100 free, 50 free, 200 free relay and 400 free relay
Two-time all-conference member
Two-time all-state selection
Best Times: 50 Free SCY – 24.52; 100 Free SCY – 52.23; 200 free, SCY – 1:52.80
Quote From Sall: "Liberty University in my mind is the perfect school. It has the Division I athletics, top-notch education, a beautiful campus, but most importantly, a Christian atmosphere. Although Liberty is far away, it will be worth it because it has everything I was looking for in a college and more. I felt a positive team atmosphere on my visit and I cannot wait to be a part of it. I am looking forward to seeing how I can be the hands and feet of God, Holland Christian has so graciously taught me, at this wonderful university."
Quote from Shellenberger: Ashlee had a breakout Michigan High School State Championship meet this fall, and helped lead Holland Christian to a terrific performance and a fourth place team finish.  Ashlee will provide depth to our mid-distance freestyle events and has the ability to swim anywhere from the 50 to the 500.  She is a fantastic fit for Liberty and we are excited to have her on the mountain."

Name: Rachel Wasko
Hometown: Redding, Calif.
High School: Home School
Club: Sun Oaks Aquatics Racing
Club Coach: Randy Teeters
Intended Major: Business
Honors and Highlights:
Also recruited to play collegiate volleyball
Member of Northern California Volleyball Association Power League Team
Member of the Honors College, Liberty University
NSCA Junior National qualifier 100 meter breast
High school section champion 100 breast & 200 IM
11-time sectional qualifier
Two-time member of the Sierra Nevada Western Zone All Star Team
23 club team records
Best Times: 100 Breast LCM – 1:16.14; 100 Breast SCY – 1:07.37; 100 free LCM – 59.99; 100 free SCY – 53.58; 200 Breast, SCY – 2:25.42, 200 IM, SCY – 2:10.42
Quote from Wasko:  "After my recruiting trip, I had no doubt in my mind that Liberty University was the place for me. Liberty is the only school where you can experience an amazing Christian environment along with a big time Division I sports program. Jake and Jessica are taking the program to a whole new level and I'm excited to be a part of it. Go Flames."
Quote from Shellenberger: "Rachel is just getting back into competitive swimming after taking a three year break to play elite level club volleyball. At 6-0 and an outside hitter on the court, we are very excited to see her land athleticism transfer to the pool, and believe that she is going to be a major contributor in our conference and at the national level. Rachel will enroll in the Honors College here at LU in the fall, and is a fantastic fit for Liberty."