Liberty will take on a pair of CCSA foes on Friday at 5 p.m., facing Georgia Southern and Gardner-Webb in a tri-meet held at GWU's Bost Pool in Boiling Springs, N.C.
Friday's event will be scored in dual-meet fashion, with each team earning points head-to-head against each opponent. Liberty enters the meet with a 3-2 record, including 1-0 against CCSA opponents. Gardner-Webb is 2-4, including 2-1 in CCSA meets, while Georgia Southern holds a 2-1 record, 2-0 versus league foes.
This weekend's meet will also feature the teams that finished second (Liberty), third (Gardner-Webb) and fourth (Georgia Southern) at the 2017 CCSA Women's Swimming & Diving Championship.
In the all-time series, Liberty leads Georgia Southern, 7-2, with the Lady Flames having won each of the last seven meetings. With nine all-time meetings, the Eagles are Liberty's second most frequent opponent, behind only Campbell (12 times). The Lady Flames lead Gardner-Webb, 3-1, winning the last three meetings in a row.
Liberty defeated both Gardner-Webb (221-93) and Georgia Southern (229-113) at the Davidson Duals, Jan. 27-28, 2017. Liberty's only previous trip to Bost Pool came on Jan. 27, 2012, when the Lady Flames downed the Runnin' Bulldgos, 119-86.
The Lady Flames finished second at the 2017 CCSA Championships, their third straight conference runner-up finish and fifth in program history. Liberty won its first conference championship in 2014.
Liberty opened the 2017-18 season with a win over Campbell for the fourth year in a row, downing the Camels, 159-137, Sept. 30 in Buies Creek, N.C. Then, the Lady Flames fell in a close meet at 2017 Big 12 runner-up Kansas, 188.5-164.5, Oct. 6-7.
Most recently, Liberty went 2-1 at the Virginia Tech Sprint Challenge, last Friday at Christiansburg Aquatic Center. The Lady Flames defeated VMI and three-time defending NCAA Division II national champion Queens while falling to nationally-ranked Virginia Tech.
In each of its first two meets this season, Liberty posted six individual-event victories. Senior Rachel Hoeve leads the team with three individual-event victories. Freshmen Lindsey Cohee and Payton Keiner, along with junior Ricki Lee Hodges, have posted two individual-event victories each so far this season.
Weekly Honors Junior Amy Schools was named CCSA Women's Diver of the Week on Oct. 10, after completing her first collegiate diving competition, Oct. 6-7 at Kansas. She ranks fifth in program history in the one-meter and three-meter diving events. Schools is the fourth Lady Flame to earn CCSA Diver of the Week honors, and first since teammate Jenna Joyal, Oct. 11, 2016.
Starting last season, Hoeve has been dominant in the 50 free. She has won the event nine straight times in dual-meet action, including a big win over Virginia Tech's top sprinters last week. She made three A Finals appearances at the 2017 CCSA Championships, highlighted by a fourth-place finish in the 50 free in NCAA B cut, personal-best 22.76. Her 22.76 50 free is tied for third in program history.
Liberty's relays had great performances at Virginia Tech. The 200 free relay of Hoeve, Colleen Donlin, Brittany Weiss and Hannah Baker won in 1:33.79, .01 seconds ahead of Virginia Tech's A team. Liberty's 200 medley relay placed third, but their time of 1:43.07 was the third-fastest regular-season 200 medley relay time in program history.
Cohee has been impressive early on in her career, posting wins in both the 100 fly and 200 fly. She is already fifth on the program's all-time top 10 performers list in the 200 fly (2:04.22) and seventh in the 100 fly (55.93).
Hodges has gotten off to a strong start, winning the 100 breaststroke at both Campbell and Kansas. Those were the second and third event victories of her collegiate career.
Keiner won the 200 back at Campbell before claiming the same event at Kansas. Her season-best 2:03.15 at Kansas ranks seventh all-time in program history for the event. She is also ranked fourth in program history in the 50 backstroke (26.49).
Brittany Weiss won the 100 back at Kansas in 55.84, before lowering her season best to 55.37 at Virginia Tech. Weiss earned Most Outstanding Freshman of the CCSA Meet in 2017. She won the CCSA 100 back in program-record, NCAA B cut time, 53.42. She also swam a B cut in the 100 fly, placing fifth in 54.15.
Alicia Finnigan earned victory at Kansas in the 200 fly, swimming 2:03.91. Finnigan won the 200 fly at the 2017 conference meet, before setting a conference record, with a time of 1:56.15 at the Bulldog Last Chance Meet to qualify for the NCAA Championships. She then tied for 10th place in the 200-meter butterfly at the Phillips 66 National Championships in the summer.
A pair of additional freshmen have entered the program's top 10 this season, in Kiah Francis (400 IM – 5th in 4:33.59) and Emily Manly (400 IM – 10th in 4:39.59; 1000 free – 10th in 10:36.79).
A key moment in program history will take place this season, as the Liberty Natatorium is set to open this fall. The Lady Flames will contest their first meet at the state-of-the-art facility on Dec. 1-2, with the Grand Opening set for Jan. 26-27. The Liberty Natatorium will house an Olympic-sized pool with a separate diving well, along with seating for 1,400 spectators in a wraparound setting. The facility will feature the newest and best technology.
Head Coach Jake Shellenberger is in his eighth season at the helm, guiding the program since the inaugural 2010-11 campaign. He has posted a 76-30 dual-meet record, twice being named CCSA Women's Swimming Coach of the Year. His teams have gone 43-14 against CCSA competition.
Last season, Finnigan (500 free, 100 fly, 200 fly) and Prudence Rooker (100 breaststroke, 200 breaststroke, 200 IM) became the fifth and sixth swimmers in program history to post three top-three finishes at a single CCSA Championship meet.
Rooker is a five-time podium finisher at the conference level, including three medal performances in 2017. Last season, she placed second at the CCSA Championships in the 100 breaststroke, 200 breaststroke and 200 IM. Rooker swam B cuts in the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM.
The 2017-18 Lady Flames return 21 student-athletes from last year's squad, while welcoming 11 newcomers. With the opening of the Liberty Natatorium imminent, Liberty has fielded a complement of seven divers.
Liberty returns 16 student-athletes who scored points at the 2017 CCSA Championships, including 14 who earned a combined 25 top-eight finishes at last year's league meet.
Gardner-Webb Gardner-Webb is off to a 2-4 start to the season, including 2-1 against CCSA opponents. The Runnin' Bulldogs defeated UNC Asheville in a relay meet, while splitting two meetings with Campbell already. GWU finished third at the 2017 CCSA Women's Swimming & Diving Championship, scoring 851 points.
London Schumacher returns, as the two-time defending CCSA champion in the 400 IM. The four-time CCSA podium finisher holds Gardner-Webb's 400 IM record at 4:15.96. Lauren Oglesby won the CCSA 1,650 free in conference-record 16:20.60 as a freshman in 2015 before repeating as champion in 2016. Also a four-time podium placer, Oglesby is GWU's record holder in the 500 (4:53.37), 1000 (9:53.90) and 1,650 (16:20.60) freestyle events. Lili Toth, who has placed top-three three times at CCSA Championships, is Gardner-Webb's record holder in the 200 IM, 2:02.18. Also among the Runnin' Bulldogs' top swimmers is Texas transfer Bethany Leap.
Georgia Southern Georgia Southern is off to a 2-1 start, including 2-0 against CCSA opponents. The Eagles placed fourth at the 2017 CCSA Women's Swimming & Diving Championship with 818.5 points.
Breanna Stuart returns after posting fourth-place finishes in the 200 breaststroke and 400 IM at the 2017 CCSA meet. Stuart holds GSU's program record in the 200 IM (2:03.83). Kaylyn Thomas narrowly missed the A finals in the 100 and 200 fly last season, but Thomas holds the Eagles' program records in both the 100 (54.96) and 200 fly (2:03.60). Anna Moers finished fourth in the 100 back in NCAA B cut time, 55.03, at last season's league meet, while Courtney Schaefer picked up a fifth-place finish in the 400 IM. Following this weekend's meet, Liberty will next compete at the Frank Elm Invite, held Nov. 17-20 at Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J.
Order of Events Friday, Oct. 27 1. 200 Medley Relay 2. 1000 Freestyle 3. 200 Freestyle 4. 100 Backstroke 5. 100 Breaststroke 6. 200 Butterfly 7. 50 Freestyle Break 8. 100 Freestyle 9. 200 Backstroke 10. 200 Breaststroke 11. 500 Freestyle 12. 100 Butterfly Break 13. 400 Individual Medley 14. 200 Freestyle Relay