Men's swimmers leave regional competition in their wakes
October 13, 2019 | College Park, Md.
While earning numerous national cuts and breaking multiple program records, 16 members of Liberty University's men's swimming team fueled the Flames to a first-place finish out of 24 schools in the Collegiate Club Swimming (CCS) Eastern Regional Championships on Saturday and Sunday at the University of Maryland.
"It was awesome, really exciting seeing how fast we swam," Liberty Head Coach Heath Grishaw said. "Pretty much all of the guys were going close to their best times, in-season times, and it's only the second month of our season. It was very eye-opening to know we have a very good shot to swim even faster at (CCS) Nationals (on April 11-12 in Greensboro, N.C.)."
The Flames won all four of the relays they entered and featured six individual winners to rack up 723 team points. Ultimately, the Flames finished in front of host Maryland (511), Penn State (395), William & Mary (312), Virginia (295), Carnegie-Mellon (275), Connecticut (205), JMU (188), George Mason (183), and Virginia Tech, which rounded out the top 10 with 163 points.
In the combined men's and women's standings, Liberty placed third overall behind only Penn State (1,011.5) and Maryland (859).
"Last year, we placed third among men's team and fourth in the overall combined score," Grishaw said. "Finishing third overall is even more impressive considering we don't have a women's club team."
Sophomore Ben Klipp, seniors Noah Miller and Charles Fernandez, and freshman Matthew Davidson combined to lead the Flames to a first-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay in 1 minute, 26.78 seconds, lowering the club record established in the program's first year in 2017-18 by a full second. The same foursome swam in the same order in the 400 free relay, which won in 3:12.54, taking two seconds off the program record.
Davidson (back stroke), freshman Corbin Libby (breast), Klipp (butterfly), and Fernandez (free) smashed the Flames' 200 medley relay record time by nearly four seconds, winning in 1:37.07. Davidson, Lilly, Miller, and Fernandez also bettered the club's 400 medley relay record time by exactly five seconds, winning in 3:31.02.
"I am really ecstatic with the relays," Grishaw said. "They did great and Noah Miller and Ben Klipp did a phenomenal job with their leadership. Noah Miller is in better shape than he's ever been and the confidence he has is contagious."
Individually, Libby, who swam a 100-yard breast split time of 59.64 in the 400 medley relay, also won the 50 breast in a team-record time of 27.25. Davidson, meanwhile, established program standards in winning all three of his backstroke events — the 50 (23.78), 100 (by exactly six seconds in 51.12), and 200 (by more than 16 seconds in 1:53.35) — and finished second in the 50 free (21.29).
Freshman Robert Boehme set new team standards while winning the 500 (4:47.74) and 1,000 free (9:47.88) and placing second in the 400 IM (4:18.46). He also came in second in the 200 free (1:45.91), ahead of Fernandez's third-place finish (1:47.37), and third in the 200 fly.
"Robert's 200 free time was spectacular this early in the season," Grishaw said. "I feel very confident that our 800 relay will be able to swim under 7:00 and be in the top three at nationals, with all four guys capable of going under 1:45. I'm excited and looking forward to it. We have high goals."
Liberty will conclude its fall schedule by traveling to meets at Elon (N.C.) University on Oct. 26 and North Carolina State from Nov. 2-3.