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4 Lady Flames to Compete at USA Swimming Winter National Championships

November 29, 2018  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Lindsey Cohee is one of four Lady Flames entered in the 2018 USA Swimming Winter National Championships on Saturday.

Lindsey Cohee is one of four Lady Flames entered in the 2018 USA Swimming Winter National Championships on Saturday.

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The Liberty swimming & diving team will be represented by four student-athletes at the 2018 USA Swimming Winter National Championships, held Wednesday through Saturday at Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, N.C.

The Lady Flames will send four individuals to the Winter National Championships, in senior Alicia Finnigan, sophomores Lindsey Cohee and Payton Keiner and freshman Gianni Pitto. Liberty will have the most individuals compete at the USA Swimming Winter National Championships in program history.

How to Follow the Action
Fans can follow the meet through live results and live video streaming, both courtesy of USASwimming.org. Links are available on the swimming schedule page on LibertyFlames.com. For the full TV/streaming schedule, please, click here.

This will be the first time that athletes have an opportunity to earn qualifying times for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, which will be held June 21-28, 2020 in Omaha, Neb.

This is the eighth year in a row in which the Lady Flames have had at least one swimmer compete at the national or international level. It is the program's second appearance in the USA Swimming Winter National Championships, and first since 2011. Brye Ravettine placed 17th in the 50 free at Winter Nationals that year, earning Liberty's first scoring performance at a USA Swimming national meet while also posting a qualifying time for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Liberty has had competitors in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in both 2012 and 2016.

Finnigan has had great success on the national stage each of the last two years, tying for 10th in the 200 fly at the 2017 Phillips 66 National Championships before taking 10th place outright at the 2018 Phillips 66 Nationals in a lifetime-best 2:10.50. The senior is the third Liberty swimmer to score points at USA Swimming-sponsored national meets. Ravettine placed 17th in the 50 free at the 2011 AT&T USA Swimming Winter National Championships, while Emilie Kaufman finished 13th in the 100 breaststroke at the 2013 U.S. Open.

Preliminary heats for each event will be held beginning at 9 a.m. each day. The top 24 times from preliminaries in each event advance to that evening's final round, which starts at 5 p.m.

Finishing first through eighth in qualifying earns a spot in championships (A) final, while a 9-16 qualification garners a place in the consolation (B) final. There will be a bonus (C) final for qualifiers numbered 17-24

Events with Liberty Athletes Competing
Saturday, Dec. 1
Women's 200-Meter Backstroke (9:00 a.m.)
Olympic Trials Standard:
2:14.69
Liberty's entrant: Payton Keiner

How she qualified: Payton Keiner, the 2018 CCSA Most Outstanding Freshman of the Meet, qualified for the Winter National Championships with a 2:16.04 at the 2018 Phillips 66 National Championships. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native holds the CCSA record in the 200-yard butterfly (1:53.68) and is the reigning CCSA champion in the event. She has broken two minutes for the 200-yard butterfly in regular-season action this season.

Keiner is seeded 20th in the psych sheet for 200 back. Canadian record holder Kylie Masse, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist in the 100 back, holds the top qualifying time at 2:05.98. Hali Flickinger, who competed in the 2016 Olympics, holds the second seed at 2:09.22. Ali Galyer, a two-time All-American in the 200 back for Kentucky in 2018, is seeded third at 2:09.77. 2016 Canadian Olympic swimmer Kennedy Goss is fourth (2:10.14).

Women's 200-Meter Breaststroke (10:11 a.m.)
Olympic Trials Standard:
2:33.29
Liberty's entrant: Gianni Pitto

How she qualified: Gianni Pitto, a standout freshman for the Lady Flames, qualified for the Winter Nationals with a time of 2:31.98 at the 2018 Phillips 66 National Championships. That time is good for 13th on the pre-meet psych sheet. She leads Liberty with 12 individual-event victories this season, and holds the top time in the CCSA in in the 400 IM this season Pitto is among the conference's leaders in both the 100 breaststroke and 200 breaststroke.

A pair of Team USA athletes headline the 200 breaststroke field, led by top-seeded Micah Sumrall (2:21.88), who placed sixth in this event at the 2016 Olympics. Second-seeded Kelsey Wog from Canada (2:23.83) took the silver medal at the 2016 FINA World Swimming Championships, while Team USA swimmer Emily Escobedo is seeded third at 2:24.71.

Women's 200-Meter Butterfly (10:59 a.m.)
Olympic Trials Standard:
2:14.59
Liberty's entrants: Alicia Finnigan and Lindsey Cohee

How they qualified: Finnigan will be seeded fourth overall in the 200 fly with her 2:10.50, which she swam at the 2018 Phillips 66 National Championships, good for 10th place. The Sugar Land, Texas, native, was voted the 2018 CCSA Women's Swimmer of the Year after winning the 200 fly at the CCSA Championships for the second year in a row and placing 20th in the event at the NCAA National meet.

Cohee, a native of Charlotte, N.C., qualified for the meet with a lifetime-best 2:16.98 in the 200-meter butterfly at the 2018 Phillips 66 National Championships. Cohee finished third in the 200 fly at the 2018 CCSA Championships, her first career conference podium finish.

Finnigan and Cohee are part of a field that is headlined by 2016 Olympic finalist Hali Flickinger (2:05.87). Canadian Mabel Zavaros, a freshman at Florida, is seeded second at 2:08.71, while Olivia Bray holds the third seed in 2:10.44. Finnigan, the fourth seed (2:10.50), is the second best seed among collegiate swimmers entered in this event. Cohee enters with the 25th fastest time in the field.