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Liberty Natatorium Opens With Central Virginia Duals, This Weekend

November 29, 2017  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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The brand-new, state-of-the-art Liberty Natatorium is set to open this weekend, as Liberty swimming & diving hosts the Central Virginia Duals, Friday and Saturday.

The two-day meet will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, with the women's 200 medley relay. Saturday's session starts at 11 a.m. with the women's 400 medley relay.

Parking will be available in the parking lot adjacent to the Liberty Indoor Track Complex. Please follow appropriate signage to the entrance of the Liberty Natatorium.

This weekend's event will feature invitational seeding and dual-meet scoring. Liberty and Campbell will score against each other in women's swimming. On the women's side, Sweet Briar, Ferrum and Roanoke will square off against each other. Ferrum, Hampden-Sydney and Roanoke will all have their respective men's teams competing.

Liberty women (CCSA) and Hampden-Sydney men (ODAC) both finished as runner-up at their respective conference meet in 2017. Roanoke is in its first year back as a swimming team, as the program has been revitalized after over a 30-year hiatus.

How to Follow the Meet
Live results will be available on the Meet Mobile app. Also, the LUSwimDive Twitter page will be providing periodic updates throughout the meet.

This is a major moment in program history, as the Liberty Natatorium houses a nine-lane, Olympic-sized pool with a separate diving well, along with seating for 1,414 spectators in a wraparound setting. The facility features the newest and best technology, including a 13.6' x 43' main swimming video board. This facility will allow Liberty to host many high-level invitationals and championships. The Grand Opening Meet is set for Jan. 26-27, 2018.

Liberty faced Campbell in its first-ever meet as a swimming & diving program, Oct. 2, 2010 at LaHaye Aquatics Center. The Lady Flames beat the Camels, 205-57, on Jan. 20, 2017 in the last meet at their old facility. Fittingly, the Camels will help the Lady Flames open the new Liberty Natatorium this weekend. Campbell is Liberty's most frequent opponent in program history, as the Lady Flames hold a 10-2 record in the series. Liberty defeated Campbell, 159-137, in both teams' season opener, Sept. 30, 2017 in Buies Creek, N.C.

So far this season, Liberty holds a 5-2 record, including 3-0 against CCSA opponents. The Lady Flames nearly knocked off defending Big 12 runner-up Kansas and has picked up conference wins over Campbell, Gardner-Webb and Georgia Southern.

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.

Liberty's last meet saw the Lady Flames post a sixth-place finish at the Frank Elm Invitational, Nov. 17-19. Brittany Weiss provided a big highlight, winning the 100 back in NCAA B cut time, 54.59. Lindsey Cohee recorded top-eight finishes in both the 200 fly (3rd – 2:02.02) and 100 fly (7th – 56.28), while Alicia Finnigan (6th in 200 fly – 2:05.21) and Payton Keiner (8th in 200 back – 2:01.50) also earned A Finals swims.

Weiss' 54.59 at the Frank Elm Invite is the fastest 100 backstroke by any CCSA swimmer so far this season. 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.

Starting last season, Rachel Hoeve has been dominant in the 50 free, going undefeated in dual meets. She has won the event 10 straight times in dual-meet action, including a big win over Virginia Tech's top sprinters on Oct. 20. 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 (2:02.02) and seventh in the 100 fly (55.93).

Payton Keiner won the 200 back at Campbell before claiming the same event at Kansas. Her season-best 2:01.50 at the Frank Elm Invitational ranks sixth all-time in program history for the event. She is also ranked fourth in program history in the 50 backstroke (26.49), eighth in the 1000 freestyle (10:26.52) and 10th in the 100 back (56.44).

Alicia Finnigan earned victory at Kansas in the 200 fly, swimming 2:03.91, before going 2:03.71 at the Virginia Tech Sprint Challenge. 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 – 6th in 4:33.59; 200 IM – 10th in 2:07.54) and Emily Manly (400 IM – 5th in 4:33.13).

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 78-30 dual-meet record, twice being named CCSA Women's Swimming Coach of the Year. His teams have gone 45-14 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.

Campbell brings a 4-6 record to Lynchburg, including a 3-4 mark against CCSA opponents. The Camels placed seventh at the Georgia Tech Invitational, Nov. 16-18. At the 2017 CCSA Championships, the Camels placed sixth with 695.5 points.

Michelle Case was named CCSA Women's Swimmer of the Week on Nov. 21 after setting three individual program records and swimming on three record-setting relays at the Georgia Tech Invitational. Case holds Campbell's records in the 50 free (23.28), 100 free (50.98) and 200 free (1:51.42). Taylor McMinn set a team record in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.87) at Georgia Tech. Current Camels Madison Scott (200 fly – 2:02.53) and Caroline Clark (100 fly – 55.17) also hold program records.

Following this weekend's meet, Liberty open the year 2018 in Fort Myers, Fla., taking on three-time defending CCSA champion Florida Gulf Coast on Jan. 6 at FGCU Aquatics Center.

Order of Events
?Friday, Dec. 1

200 Medley Relay
500 Freestyle
200 Freestyle
50 Freestyle
200 Individual Medley
100 Backstroke
100 Breaststroke
200 Butterfly
200 Freestyle Relay

Saturday, Dec. 2
400 Medley Relay
1000 Freestyle
100 Freestyle
200 Backstroke
200 Breaststroke
100 Butterfly
400 Individual Medley
400 Freestyle Relay