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Liberty Earns 2019 CCSA Women's Swimming & Diving Championship

February 23, 2019  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty captured its second swimming & diving conference championship, claiming victory in the 2019 Coastal Collegiate Sports Association (CCSA) Women's Swimming & Diving Championships, which wrapped up Saturday at the Liberty Natatorium.

The Lady Flames won with a conference-record 1,859.5 points, ousting four-time defending champion FGCU, who scored 1,668 points. Incarnate Word finished in third at 1,049.

Liberty claimed its second CCSA title, five years to the day after its first championship in 2014, ending FGCU's four-year streak as conference champions. The Lady Flames are the first CCSA institution to serve as host for the CCSA Championships.

The Liberty Athletics department won three conference championships today. In the adjoining Liberty Indoor Track Center, Liberty won both titles at the ASUN Men's and Women's Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Team Standings
1. Liberty – 1,859.5

2. FGCU – 1,668
3. Incarnate Word – 1,049
4. Georgia Southern – 990
5. Campbell – 970.5
6. UNC Asheville – 820
7. North Florida – 722
8. Gardner-Webb – 711
9. Howard – 416

Liberty A Finalists
• R-So. Mikayla Herich – 1,650 freestyle (1st place in 16:37.35)
• So. Arielle Arnett – 1,650 freestyle (3rd place in 16:58.90)
• Sr. Shelby Black – 1,650 freestyle (8th place in 17:21.34)
• So. Payton Keiner – 200 backstroke (1st place in 1:54.25)
• Fr. Emma Hazel – 200 backstroke (2nd place in 1:57.98)
• So. Emily Manly – 200 backstroke (7th place in 2:03.89)
• Jr. Colleen Donlin – 100 freestyle (6th place in 50.75)
• Jr. Hannah Baker – 100 freestyle (7th place in 50.78)
• Sr. Elizabeth Magnusson – 100 freestyle (8th place in 50.88)
• Fr. Gianni Pitto – 200 breaststroke (2nd place in 2:15.32)
• Sr. Alicia Finnigan – 200 butterfly (1st place in 1:56.61)
• So. Lindsey Cohee – 200 butterfly (3rd place in 2:00.05)
• 400 freestyle relay – 2nd place (Emily Zimcosky – 51.00; Colleen Donlin – 50.18; Hannah Baker – 50.56; Elizabeth Magnusson – 50.41) – 3:22.15

Notable
• Ninth-year head coach Jake Shellenberger was voted CCSA Women's Swimming Coach of the Year, sharing the award with Campbell's Pascal Molinard and UNC Asheville's Elizabeth Lykins. It is Coach Shellenberger's third Coach of the Year honor, and first since 2014.

• Liberty diving coach Tori Wood was voted CCSA Women's Diving Coach of the Year, sharing the award with Incarnate Word's Tommy Law and FGCU's David Boyko.

 • Gianni Pitto was named Most Outstanding Freshman of the CCSA Meet, the fifth swimmer in program history to earn the award. Her teammates Brittany Weiss (2017) and Payton Keiner (2018) earned the award the last two years.

• The Lady Flames posted eight podium finishes on Saturday, including three event victories and two NCAA B cuts. Liberty finished the meet with program records for both podium finishes (27) and event victories (10) at a CCSA Championship meet, and earned eight B cuts. The program's records for the 200 IM, 400 IM and 1,650 freestyle were all lowered this week.

• Pitto (400 IM, 100 breaststroke, 200 breaststroke), Mikayla Herich (200 IM, 400 IM, 1,650 freestyle) and Alicia Finnigan (500 free, 100 fly, 200 fly) all earned top-three finishes in three events this week. This is the third year in a row that Finnigan has earned podium finishes in three events.

• Herich (200 IM, 1,650 freestyle) and Payton Keiner (100 back, 200 back) both picked up two event victories this week, while Alicia Finnigan (200 fly), Emily Zimcosky (200 free), Emily Manly (500 free) and Gianni PItto (400 IM) won one event each.

• On Saturday, Herich won the 1,650 freestyle in a program-record 16:37.35, becoming the second Liberty swimmer (Delia Weber, 2017) to win the 1,650 free at the CCSA meet.

• Keiner won the 200 backstroke in NCAA B cut time of 1:54.25, earning victory in the event for the second year in a row.

• Finnigan claimed victory in the 200 butterfly for the third year in a row, becoming the first Lady Flame to win one event three separate years at the CCSA Championships.

• Finnigan has set a program record with 10 career podium finishes, and joins Victoria Tschoke (2014-17) and Prudence Rooker (2015-18) as the only swimmers to qualify for 12 A Finals at CCSA Championships.

Historically Speaking
• In addition to Herich's program-record 16:37.35 in the 1,650 free, Arielle Arnett became the fifth swimmer in program history to break 17:00, swimming 16:58.90. Shelby Black's 17:21.34 in the 1,650 is good for eighth on the program's all-time top 10 in the event.

• Emma Hazel improved to fourth in program history in the 200 backstroke with her 1:57.98 tonight.

 • Pitto's 2:15.32 in the 200 breaststroke ranks third in program history. Chloe Rippey swam a time (2:19.34) in prelims that places her 10th on Liberty's top 10 in the event.

• Liberty's 3:22.15 in the 400 freestyle relay is ranked seventh in the event on the team's all-time top 10.

Up Next
The Lady Flames will host the second-annual Liberty Last Chance Meet, next Friday through Sunday at the Liberty Natatorium.