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Liberty Swimming & Diving Earns CSCAA Scholar All-America Team Distinction

July 5, 2018  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty Swimming & Diving Earns CSCAA Scholar All-America Team Distinction

Official CSCAA Individual Scholar All-American Release

Official CSCAA Scholar All-America Team Release

After obtaining a 3.50 team GPA during the spring 2018 semester, the Liberty swimming & diving team was included on the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Scholar All-America Team list. Additionally, a program-record five Lady Flames have been named CSCAA Individual Scholar All-Americans.

Liberty's five Scholar All-Americans are highlighted by junior Alicia Finnigan and freshman Payton Keiner, who both made the first team. Sophomores Hannah Baker and Brittany Weiss, along with freshman Kiah Francis, received honorable mention. The Lady Flames placed exactly four athletes among the ranks of CSCAA Individual Scholar All-Americans each of the last five years (2013-17).

This is the first time in program history that Liberty has had more than one freshman named a CSCAA Scholar All-American, while Keiner is the first Lady Flame to earn first-team honors as a freshman. Finnigan has tied Meghan Babcock (2013-15), Kendall Hough (2014-16) and Victoria Tschoke (2015-17) for the program record with three Scholar All-America awards, while Finnigan is the first Liberty swimmer to earn multiple first-team honors (2017, 2018).

The Individual Scholar All-America award is given to college swimmers and divers who have earned a 3.5 cumulative GPA or higher, and have qualified for and competed at the national championship. Honorable mention is given to college swimmers and divers with a 3.5 GPA or higher who attained a "B" standard but were not invited to the national championship.

The CSCAA also announced its Scholar All-America Team awards, which were received by 476 programs, spanning high school, NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA. In order to qualify for the award, a team must have achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher during the previous semester.

As a team, the Lady Flames earned a cumulative team GPA of 3.50 in the spring of 2018. Liberty's GPA is tied for the 71st best in NCAA Division I this semester. This was the second-highest cumulative team GPA for a semester in program history, trailing only spring 2017, when the Lady Flames' 3.60 GPA ranked 20th in the nation. A total of seven out of nine Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association (CCSA) teams appear on the most recent Scholar All-America Team list.

Liberty has now earned CSCAA academic honors as a team during each of the past 14 semesters, dating back to the fall 2011 semester.

A native of Sugar Land, Texas, Finnigan is pursuing a major in interdisciplinary studies. She received an array of awards this season. She was named the recipient of the prestigious NCAA ELITE 90 Award, given to the athlete at the 2018 NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championships with the highest GPA. She was voted to the 2018 Google Cloud Academic All-America At-Large second team, and was also named the 2018 CCSA Women's Swimmer of the Year. For the second year in a row, she won the 200 fly at the CCSA Championships, earned three conference podium finishes, and swam at the NCAA national meet.

A nursing major from Cincinnati, Ohio, Keiner burst onto the scene as a freshman. Keiner, the 2018 CCSA Most Outstanding Freshman of the Meet, swam a conference and program-record 200 backstroke time of 1:53.68 at the Liberty Last Chance Meet. She also clocked B cuts in the 100 back (53.42) and 100 free (49.73). Keiner earned two podium finishes at the 2018 CCSA Championship, winning the 200 back and finishing second in the 100 back. The freshman competed in both backstroke events at the 2018 NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championships.

Weiss, majoring in business administration and hailing from Sellersville, Pa., earns her second Scholar All-American certificate in as many years. She won the 100 backstroke at the CCSA Championships for the second year in a row, swimming a program-record, NCAA B cut time of 52.81. She placed fifth in both the 50 (23.07) and 100 (50.00) freestyle at the conference meet, also swimming in four winning relays. Last year, Weiss was named the 2017 CCSA Most Outstanding Freshman of the Meet.

Hailing from Fairfax, Va., and majoring in nursing, Baker had a standout meet at the 2018 CCSA Championships. She led off Liberty's program-, meet- and conference-record (7:10.73) 800 free relay in a program-record and NCAA B cut 200 free time of 1:46.55. Baker swam on four winning relays at the conference meet. Individually, she took second in the 50 free (B cut 22.81), third in the 200 free (1:48.64) and fourth in the 100 free (B cut 49.99). She ranks in the top five in program history in the 50, 100 and 200 free.

A Rhinelander, Wis., native majoring in exercise science, Francis had a strong freshman season focusing on the individual medley. She swam an NCAA B cut, program-record 4:18.70 to finish second in the 400 IM at the 2018 CCSA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships. The freshman finished fourth in the CCSA 200 IM (2:02.11) and seventh in the 200 breaststroke (2:17.52). Francis is in the top five at Liberty in the 200 breaststroke, 200 IM and 400 IM.