Preview from the pool

Lady Flames swimming & diving set sights on conference championship

The Liberty University swimming & diving team jumps into the sixth year of the program this fall, hoping to continue to build upon recent success.

 cruising — A Lady Flames swimmer competes in the backstroke during a spring 2015 event at Liberty’s Aquatics Center. Photo credit: Leah Seavers

Cruising — A Lady Flames swimmer competes in the backstroke during a spring 2015 event at Liberty’s Aquatics Center. Photo credit: Leah Seavers

The Lady Flames finished second in the 2015 Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association (CCSA) Swimming & Diving Championships, completing a top-2 finish in their conference for a fourth year in a row.

This season’s team returns three conference medalists and four additional swimmers who won medals during relays at the conference championship last year.

Head swimming and diving coach, Jake Shellenberger, posted a 55-21 dual-meet record in the program’s first five years and has earned two CCSA Swimming Coach of the Year honors, according to He believes the program’s success is a direct result of recruiting.

“We try to recruit the absolute best student athletes possible,” Shellenberger said. “Then (we) train them to be elite athletes.”

Not only are those athletes trained in the pool, but they are challenged in different parts of life.

“We talk about HPP, developing high-performance people,” Shellenberger said. “That’s one of our mottos here, (being) high-performance people in all areas of life. It’s not just spiritual. It’s not just academic. It’s not just athletic. It’s everywhere (in life).”

Regardless of how talented the athletes may be, no team will be able to function properly if they lack chemistry together.

That is not a problem with this group of ladies, according to senior Kendall Hough, who enters the season with program records in the 50 back (24.97 – L) and 100 back (53.98) while earning three podium finishes at the 2015 CCSA Championships, according to

“We have such good chemistry,” Hough says. “We are all close and (we) like each other so much. I love this team so much.”

Shellenberger believes that the people in the swimming & diving program strengthen the chemistry of the team.

“We love our culture,” Shellenberger said. “We have a lot of great people here, and we want to bring in more people like the people we already have.”

Sophomore swimmer Prudence Rooker won five personal events and five relay medleys last year in her first season in a Lady Flames uniform. Rooker, along with the rest of her team, looks to build upon that success.

“We want to get as (many) people as we can scoring at conference,” Rooker said. “I think that is the goal.”

Hough echoed Rooker when discussing the goal for the upcoming season.

“Athletically, (our goal is) to win the conference,” Hough said. “Our goal in general (is) to build up godly women who are leaders who strive after greatness in all aspects and especially in their relationships with Christ.”

Shellenberger knows that success in the pool is important, but his team does not swim just to win trophies, medals and awards. The mission of the team remains that of the university.
The Lady Flames opened their season with a 171-120 win over the Campbell Camels. They won two relays and 10 individual events, including six in which the Lady Flames took both first and second, according to

Next, the Lady Flames will travel to Fort Worth, Texas to compete against Texas Christian University and Incarnate Word Oct. 9.

Dillard is a sports reporter.

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