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Liberty Swimming Gears Up for CCSA Meet
On the afternoon of September 7, 2010, the LaHaye Aquatics Center came to life.
On that day, members of the first-ever Liberty women's swim team sliced through the water, and began training for the pinnacle of the 2010-11 competitive season: the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association (CCSA) Championships.
That meet is now looming, as it will take place Thursday-Sunday in Athens, Ga. The Championships will be held at the Gabrielsen Natatorium on the campus of the University of Georgia.
While dual meets consist of head-to-head competition, the CCSA Championships are a three-day affair, with preliminary events taking place in the mornings at 10 a.m. and the finals happening in the evenings at 6 p.m. All 13 CCSA schools will be in attendance.
After posting a 7-9 dual meet record in its first season as an NCAA Division I sport, the Liberty squad is ready for the biggest meet of the year. Head Coach Jake Shellenberger says it is what his team has been training for all along.
"This is the biggest meet of the year, and the sole focus for every team in our conference," Shellenberger said. "Everyone will be swimming fast, and I expect our best women to compete well with the best in the conference."
Brye Ravettine, Bethany Wakeley and Lindsey Romkes have been Liberty's standout swimmers this year.
Ravettine, a redshirt freshman from Mahwah, N.J., won the first conference honor for Liberty when she was named the CCSA Swimmer of the Week on Jan. 12. She currently ranks in the top five in the conference in the 100 backstroke (No. 3, 58.83) and the 50 freestyle (No. 4, 24.13), and is among the top 15 fastest swimmers in the 100 freestyle and the 100 butterfly events.
Wakeley, who was the first swimmer to sign a national letter of intent to swim at Liberty, is the team's fastest long-distance freestyler. She ranks among the top 16 in the 1650 freestyle and is 12th in the 200 butterfly.
True freshman Romkes is strong in short-distance freestyle events, and ranks No. 6 in the CCSA in the 200 free.
While each individual swimmer always tries to beat their personal-best times, the team's finish in the CCSA meet will determine its final 2010-11 standing in the league.
"As a team, I am expecting a top-eight finish, which I do believe is possible," commented Shellenberger. "I am looking for Brye, Lindsey and Bethany to score a lot of points with multiple top-eight finishes. These three will also team up with Sarah McCorkle in the 400 freestyle relay, which should be one of our highest-scoring events."
The Lady Flames have come a long way since that first practice in the fall. At that time, much of the team consisted of walk-on athletes who had never trained full-time before. A grueling practice schedule ensued, one that including pre-dawn swims, strength training and dry-land fitness sessions.
"We've come a long way since our first practice, both in and out of the pool," Shellenberger said. "We're stronger both mentally and physically, more fit and more motivated than we were when we started."
Along with assistant coach Jessica Barnes, Shellenberger has built the program from the ground up, with future success as the ultimate goal. And he says that he has been pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the dual meet season, as the Lady Flames picked up seven wins.
While hosting Campbell in its first-ever home meet on Oct. 2, Liberty won six events in the loss. Then, the Lady Flames picked up their first program wins on Oct. 10 at Radford, defeating the Highlanders and North Carolina A&T.
Liberty continued the competitive season posting wins over league members VMI and Howard, as well as non-CCSA member Mount St. Mary's.
One highlight of the 2010-11 season was the team's training trip to Florida, which will become an annual event. From Dec. 30 – Jan. 8, the Lady Flames trained in the outdoor facility at Florida Gulf Coast, and the week was capped off with a quad meet. During the trip, the Lady Flames took part in two-a-day practices, plus weight sessions.
It wasn't all work, however. The team was given one day off, when they took the opportunity to volunteer their time at McGregor Baptist Church in Fort Myers, Fla.
As the conference meet has gotten closer, the team has tapered off on intensity. Shellenberger says the focus has been on improving details like starts, turns and technique. "From a physiological standpoint, we are resting, with the goal of peaking at full strength at the CCSA meet," he explained. "We want our fastest swimming to be at that meet, and we are resting our bodies accordingly."
And no matter the outcome at the conference meet, Shellenberger has been pleased with what he has seen from his team this year, and looks for the program to continue growing stronger.
"We're not satisfied by any means, but we've taken a step in the right direction, and we are on track to becoming a great program down the road," commented Shellenberger. "When looking at the big picture, this year has been a success."
2011 CCSA Championships
Schedule of Events
Day 1 – Trials (10 a.m.)
200-yard Freestyle Relay "B"
200-yard Individual Medley
400-yard Medley Relay "B"
One-meter Diving (1:30 p.m. Women)
Three-meter Diving (1:30 p.m. Men)
Day 1 – Finals (6 p.m.)
200-yard Freestyle Relay "A"
Three-meter Diving (Men)
200-yard Individual Medley
One-meter Diving (Women)
400-yard Medley Relay "A"
Day 2 – Trials (10 a.m.)
200-yard Medley Relay "B"
400-yard Individual Medley
800-yard Freestyle Relay "B"
One-meter Diving (1:30 p.m. Men)
Day 2 – Finals (6 p.m.)
200-yard Medley Relay "A"
400-yard Individual Medley
One-meter Diving (Men)
800-yard Freestyle Relay "A"
Day 3 – Trials (10 a.m.)
400-yard Freestyle Relay "B"
1,650-yard Freestyle-All but last heat of time finals
Three-meter Diving (1:30 p.m. Women)
Day 3 – Finals (6 p.m.)
1,650-yard Freestyle-Last heat of time finals
Three-meter Diving (Women)
400-yard Freestyle Relay "A"
Scoring will follow the NCAA championships rules.
Individual events will be scored as follows: 20-17-16-15-14-13-12-11-9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
Relay events will be scored as follows: 40-34-32-30-28-26-24-22-18-14-12-10-8-6-4-2
How to Follow the Lady Flames
All three days of the CCSA Championships will be video streamed live via the Big South Network. Also, for the first time, LibertyFlames.com will post a live blog highlighting continuous meet action. Visit LibertyFlames.com for links and more information.
Scouting the Competition
The Camels, who finished sixth at last year's conference meet, posted two wins over the Lady Flames this season, including the first-ever home meet at the LaHaye Aquatics Center on Oct. 2, 2010. Campbell has also defeated CCSA members North Carolina A&T, Radford, North Florida and Howard.
The Camels are led by reigning CCSA Swimmer of the Week Cheriesse Campbell, a freshman who ranks in the top eight in five different events, and holds the third-fastest time in the conference in the 1650 freestyle (17:27.89).
Campbell also has the third-fastest 200 freestyle relay team in the CCSA, as its ‘A' team boasts a time of 1:39.57.
College of Charleston (5-11)
The Cougars were seventh at last year's conference meet, and have defeated Campbell, Radford, and non-CCSA members Old Dominion and Limestone this season.
College of Charleston has six swimmers with top 16 times in the CCSA, highlighted by Grace Herlong, who is No. 5 in the 200 butterfly (2:07.88) and Sarah Boyle, who ranks fourth in the 200 backstroke (2:07.19).
The Lady Flames did not face the Cougars during the 2010 regular season.
The Wildcats were second behind Florida Gulf Coast at the 2009 and 2010 conference meets, and were the 2008 CCSA Champions.
This season, Davidson is 9-0 against CCSA opponents, including a 230-55 win over Liberty at Davidson on Jan. 22.
Davidson's big gun is senior Lindsey Martin, who holds the fastest conference times in the 50 free (22.98), the 100 free (49.54) and the 200 free (1:49.89). Martin, the 2010 CCSA Swimmer of the Year, has posted NCAA qualifying times in the 50 and 100 freestyle events.
Florida A&M (0-2)
The Rattlers have finished 12th at the CCSA Championships each of the last three years. The team is winless in 2010-11, but has the No. 9 200 medley relay team in the conference (‘A' team, 1:53.56).
Liberty has never competed against Florida A&M.
Florida Gulf Coast (11-2)
Florida Gulf Coast is the defending CCSA champion, winning the conference meet the last two years. In addition, the Eagles are the only CCSA school to receive Top 25 votes in the TYR/CSCAA Division I Swimming & Diving Poll. With 15 votes, Florida Gulf Coast ranks No. 37 in the country.
The Eagles won the CCSA title last year by 315 points, and returned nine all-conference swimmers and divers this season. FGCU has not dropped a conference meet this season, and the team has won its last nine meets.
The Eagles have dominated in long-distance freestyle events, holding the top three spots in the conference in both the 500 and 1000 free. Leah Daniel leads the way with conference-best times in the 500 free (4:56.83), the 1000 free (10:18.44) and the 1650 free (16:59.42).
Dani Beaubrun posted an NCAA-qualifying time in the 100 breast on Nov. 21, swimming a time of 1:02.77.
The Eagles hosted Liberty in a quad meet on Jan. 8, taking a 235-57 decision.
The Runnin' Bulldogs ended last season with a third-place finish at the CCSA meet, posting 516.5 points.
The Lady Flames welcomed Gardner-Webb to the LaHaye Aquatics Center on Nov. 6, when the visitors were victorious, 132-73.
2010 CCSA Most Outstanding Freshman Performer Kim Zachensky is currently the fastest breaststroker in the conference, as she ranks first in the 100 breast (1:01.99) and the 200 breast (2:14.72). Both of those times are NCAA-qualifying times.
Georgia Southern (13-4)
Georgia Southern enjoyed a fifth-place finish at the 2010 CCSA Championships, after coming in third in 2009. The Eagles are 11-2 against conference opponents this season, with two of those wins coming over the Lady Flames (Jan. 8 in Fort Myers, Fla., and Jan. 22 in Davidson, N.C.).
The Eagles are represented in the top 16 in the conference in 12 out of 14 individual swimming events, and diver Sara Meisenhelder ranks fifth in the 1-meter dive and seventh in the 3-meter. Senior Caroline Bevillard sits in the top 10 in both the 100 backstroke and the 200 yard IM.
The Bison, who finished eighth at the 2010 CCSA Championships to match their best-ever finish, have posted wins over VMI and North Carolina A&T this season. Liberty defeated Howard at the Davidson Duals, 148-106, on Jan. 22.
Chelsea Andrews is Howard's standout swimmer, as she ranks sixth in the conference in the 50 free (24.43) and eighth in the 100 free (52.72).
North Carolina A&T (0-8)
The Lady Flames faced the Aggies three times this year, taking both head-to-head meetings (Oct. 8 at Radford and Jan. 22 at Davidson), and finishing ahead of North Carolina A&T at the Radford Invitational on Nov. 20.
The Aggies aren't represented in the top 16 in any individual event, but the 400 freestyle relay team is ranked 11th in the conference (4:10.62). The team finished 10th out of 12 teams at last year's CCSA Championships.
North Florida (3-7)
The Ospreys defeated Radford twice and Florida A&M once this season, and their last win came over the Highlanders on Jan. 7 in Jacksonville, Fla. The team finished fourth at last year's conference meet, the highest finish in the program's history in the CCSA.
Sara Evans is North Florida's leader, as she ranks sixth in the 200 breast (2:24.65), eighth in the 400 IM (4:37.55) and is tied for 14th in the 100 breast (1:07.65).
The Highlanders were ninth in last year's conference meet, and have faced the Lady Flames three times this year. On Oct. 8, Liberty picked up its first win in program history, narrowly defeating host Radford, 116.5-114.5. However, the Highlanders came back to beat the Lady Flames on Jan. 8 in Fort Myers, Fla., and on Jan. 22 in Davidson, N.C.
Diver Katie Shaffer is the leading diver in the CCSA in the 3-meter dive, while Haley Schweitzer is 14th in the 200 fly and Jessica Frazelle and Meaghan Rowley are 15th and 16th, respectively, in the 200 backstroke.
The Keydets' lone win this season came over non-CCSA member Hollins on Dec. 2. Liberty defeated VMI twice this season, on Nov. 6 in Lynchburg and again on Jan. 15 in Lexington, Va.
The Keydets have finished 11th at the CCSA meet for the last three consecutive seasons. Briana Allard is the only top-16 performer, as she is 12th in the 1-meter dive and 13th in the 3-meter dive.
2010 CCSA Meet Results
1. Florida Gulf Coast, 831.5
2. Davidson, 637
3. Gardner-Webb, 516.5
4. North Florida, 480
5. Georgia Southern, 429.5
6. Campbell, 219.5
7. College of Charleston, 196
8. Howard, 105
9. Radford, 104
10. North Carolina A&T, 61
11. VMI, 52
12. Florida A&M, 42