The Liberty swimming & diving team opens its ninth season of competition in a familiar place, facing CCSA foe Campbell, Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Johnson Aquatic Center in Buies Creek, N.C.
This is the seventh time in program history, and fifth year in a row, that Liberty has opened its season against Campbell. The Lady Flames lead the all-time series, 11-2, having won each of the last 11 meetings in a row. Campbell is the team that Liberty has faced most frequently in program history.
Liberty and Campbell met in last year's season opener with the Lady Flames winning 159-137 on Sept. 30 at Johnson Aquatic Center. The Lady Flames then downed the Camels 237-94 in the first meet ever at Liberty Natatorium, Dec. 1-2.
Team Notes • Liberty has finished second at the CCSA Swimming & Diving Championships six times in the last seven years, with its lone CCSA title to date coming in 2014.
• The Lady Flames went 11-2 in dual meets last season, including 5-0 against CCSA opponents. Liberty has posted double-digit dual victories five times in program history.
• Last year at the CCSA Championships, Liberty scored a program-record 1,501.5 points. For the meet, the Lady Flames registered a program-record-tying 20 podium finishes, 16 NCAA B cuts, nine program records, two conference record, four meet records and nine event victories.
• The state-of-the-art Liberty Natatorium opened on Dec. 1, 2017 with the Central Virginia Duals, and was dedicated on Jan. 26, 2018 with an official ceremony. The Liberty Natatorium provides one of the best venues for collegiate swimming and diving in the nation, with a Olympic-sized competition pool and separate diving well and seating for 1,400 spectators in a wraparound setting.
• Ninth-year Head Coach Jake Shellenberger has led the Lady Flames from the program's inception. He has posted an 84-30 dual-meet record, twice being named CCSA Women's Swimming Coach of the Year. His teams have gone 47-14 all-time against CCSA competition.
• Liberty has added its largest incoming class since the first year of the program, bringing in 14 new student-athletes (10 swimmers, four divers). This includes 11 freshmen, along with transfers Mikayla Herich (Ohio), Emily Zimcosky (Ohio) and Arielle Arnett (Oakland).
• Five Lady Flames earned CSCAA Scholar All-America honors last season. Alicia Finnigan and Payton Keiner were named to the first team, while Hannah Baker, Kiah Francis and Brittany Weiss received honorable mention.
• Eight current Lady Flames have posted CCSA podium finishes in their career, led by Alicia Finnigan with seven. Hannah Baker has earned three top-three finishes, while Brittany Weiss and Payton Keiner have two podium finishes each. Lindsey Cohee, Colleen Donlin, Kiah Francis and Emily Manly have each posted one podium finish.
Student-Athlete Notes • Senior Alicia Finnigan earned several prestigious honors last year. She was named the NCAA ELITE 90 Award winner, for having the top GPA at the 2018 NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championships. Finnigan also earned Google Cloud At-Large Academic All-America second team honors.
• Finnigan, the 2018 CCSA Women's Swimmer of the Year, won the 200 fly at the CCSA Championships for the second year in a row before making her second straight appearance at the NCAA Championships.
• Sophomore Payton Keiner returns after earning 2018 Most Outstanding Freshman of the CCSA Meet honors. She won the 200 back and finished second in the 100 back at the CCSA Championships, and went on to compete in both events at the NCAA national meet. She holds the CCSA record in the 200 back (1:53.68).
• Junior Brittany Weiss repeated as CCSA champion in the 100 back last season, winning in program-record 52.81. She was named the 2017 Most Outstanding Freshman of the CCSA Meet.
• Sophomore Kiah Francis set the program 400 IM record at 4:18.70, taking second in the event at the CCSA meet.
Campbell • Campbell finished sixth at the 2018 CCSA Swimming & Diving Championships, scoring 759 points.
• Megan Everritt (50 back, 100 back), Taylor McMinn (100 breaststroke, 200 breaststroke), Maddie Baiotto (100 fly) and Madison Scott (200 fly) all return as Campbell program record holders.
Up Next Liberty will compete in New Mexico for the first time in program history, competing in the New Mexico State Duals in Las Cruces, N.M., next Friday and Saturday. The trip will coincide with Liberty's football game at New Mexico State.
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