The Liberty swimming & diving team begins the year 2017 with a dual meet against two-time defending CCSA champion Florida Gulf Coast, Saturday at 10 a.m. at FGCU Aquatics Complex.
Saturday's meet will wrap up Liberty's seventh annual training trip to Fort Myers, Fla. This will be the sixth time in the last seven seasons that the Lady Flames and Eagles will match up in dual meet action. FGCU has won all six head-to-head dual meets over Liberty, including 240-67 on Jan. 9, 2016.
Liberty is off to a 5-1 start to the 2016-17 campaign, including a 1-0 mark against conference opponents. The Lady Flames downed Campbell in their season opener, and also posted a perfect 4-0 record at the Intermountain Shootout in Grand Junction, Colo.
The Eagles are 8-3, with a 2-0 conference record. They are currently 34th in the CollegeSwimming.com Rankings, and fifth among mid-major programs. Liberty has also appeared in the CollegeSwimming.com Rankings this season.
Liberty and Florida Gulf Coast have combined to win the last eight CCSA Championships. In 2014, the Lady Flames edged the Eagles, 732.5-718.5, to snap FGCU's five-year run and claim their first CCSA championship in program history. FGCU and Liberty finished first and second, in that order, in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016.
In their most recent competition, the Lady Flames finished seventh at the Frank Elm Invite in Piscataway, N.J., Nov. 18-20. Sophomore Delia Weber broke two program records that weekend, the 1000 freestyle (10:04.44) and 1650 freestyle (16:43.69). Her 1650 free time is the fastest among any CCSA swimmer this season. Freshman Jenna Joyal has had a strong start to her diving career at Liberty, being named CCSA Women's Diver of the Week on Oct. 11. She has the fourth-best score in the CCSA in one-meter diving at present.
Junior Prudence Rooker placed fifth in the 200 breaststroke in a season-best 2:17.91 at the Frank Elm Invite. Her 2:17.91 tops the CCSA this season. Rooker has posted eight individual-event victories so far this season.
Junior Rachel Hoeve has won the 50 free at each of Liberty's three dual meets so far, including a season-best 23.40 at the Intermountain Shootout. She swam a regular-season personal best time of 51.76 for 100 free at the Frank Elm Invite.
Sophomore Alicia Finnigan earned a third-place finish in the 200 fly at the Frank Elm Invite, in 2:03.14. Her fastest 200 fly time on the year, 2:03.03, ranks third in the CCSA.
Liberty will host its final home meet at LaHaye Aquatics Center this season, hosting Campbell on Jan. 20. Construction continues on the Liberty Natatorium, which is scheduled to be ready for the 2017-18 academic year.
Head Coach Jake Shellenberger is in his seventh season at the helm at Liberty, guiding the program since its inaugural 2010-11 campaign. He has posted a 68-27 dual-meet record, while twice being named CCSA Women's Swimming Coach of the Year.
Current Lady Flames with Program Records 1000 Free – Delia Weber (10:04.44; 11/20/16) 1,650 Free – Delia Weber (16:43.69; 11/20/16)
Top Marks Liberty holds at least one of the top three times in the CCSA in the following individual races this season: 1,650 freestyle – Delia Weber (1st – 16:43.69) 200 breaststroke – Prudence Rooker (1st – 2:17.91) 200 butterfly – Alicia Finnigan (3rd – 2:03.03) 100 IM – Prudence Rooker (2nd – 57.73), Brittany Weiss (3rd – 58.65)
Florida Gulf Coast Florida Gulf Coast (8-3) won its seventh CCSA Championship in the last eight years, earning the 2016 title. The Eagles have scored points at each of the last three NCAA Championships.
This season, the Eagles have swept the CCSA Swimmer and Diver of the Week awards five times, with Ashley Wright winning Diver of the Week on five occasions.
Fanny Teijonsalo, the 2016 Co-Outstanding Swimmer and Co-Outstanding Freshman of the CCSA Championships, recently competed for Finland at the FINA World Championships. Christina Kaas Elmgreen, the 2016 CCSA champion in the 200 fly, holds the fastest time in the CCSA for both the 100 fly (53.83) and 200 fly (1:57.17) this season. Katie Latham won the CCSA 50 free last year, and has the top time in the CCSA for 50 free (22.57) and 100 free (49.10) in 2016-17. Evita Leter, the 2016 CCSA champion in the 100 breaststroke, competed for Suriname in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics.
After Saturday's meet, Liberty will next compete at UNC Asheville on Jan. 14. The Lady Flames' first meet at the Justice Center Pool is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Order of Events Liberty at FGCU 1. 400 Medley Relay 2. 1000 Freestyle 3. 200 Freestyle 4. 100 Backstroke 5. 100 Breaststroke 6. 200 Butterfly 7. 50 Freestyle 8. 3-meter Diving 9. 100 Freestyle 10. 200 Backstroke 11. 200 Breaststroke 12. 500 Freestyle 13. 100 Butterfly 14. 1-meter Diving 15. 400 Individual Medley 16. 200 Freestyle Relay
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