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    November 15, 2022 Tallahassee, Fla. RSS |

    Of the 13 meet records set at the College Club Swimming (CCS) Southern Region Championships held Friday and Saturday at Florida State University’s Morcom Aquatic Center in Tallahassee, Fla., nine of them were recorded by members of Liberty University’s swim team, which won its third consecutive Eastern Region meet at Maryland last month.

    “They swam lights out,” Flames Head Coach Heath Grishaw said. “The culture on the pool deck was amazing. Swimming is an individual sport, but it’s all about the team. The team really stamped our name on the Southern Region.”

    Flames Head Coach Heath Grishaw offers advice to freshman swimmer Aaron Sandoval.

    Grishaw entered 26 team members in a total of 118 swims at the short-course outdoor pool, with senior Matt Davidson beating his own 200-yard freestyle record at Liberty in 1 minute, 41.06 seconds and freshman Dillon Delaney improving his own program records in the 50 breaststroke (25.99), 100 breast (57.38), and 100 individual medley (52.55). All of those times also set new meet records.

    Davidson also broke the meet record in the 100 free record in 44.73 and the 100 backstroke record in 50.05. While Delaney also broke the meet’s 200 IM record in 1:55.83, sophomore Tyler Suchyj broke the 200 breast meet record in 2:10.51 and the 400 IM meet record 4:15.61.

    “Everybody that swam for us in this meet had one or more personal record times, which is awesome,” Grishaw said, noting that 87 out of those 118 swims were PR times at Liberty or lifetime bests. “They were swimming fast. It was a record-setting weekend, even though we swam the meet as an exhibition and didn’t score as a team.”

    He said the Flames, who finished fifth as a team at last spring’s CCS National Championships in Atlanta, were winning, going 1-2 or even 1-2-3 in a number of events in the meet that featured 13 men’s teams, including Georgia, which placed second at nationals, third-place FSU, and sixth-place Georgia Tech.

    “I wasn’t surprised we were the top team out there, but I was pleasantly surprised with how well the team swam,” Grishaw said. “Usually, this early on, you might have a meet like this where maybe half the team is starting to feel good. To see everybody swimming well is great. We didn’t swim relays, though we would have broken those meet records too. This was our shaved and tapered meet for this semester, and we wanted to see fresh swims for our individual races.”

    Hurricane Nicole slammed into the Atlantic side of Florida at about the same time as the Flames’ bus arrived on the state’s panhandle off the Gulf of Mexico, but the team did not feel the effects of the Category 1 hurricane or its tropical storm remnants.

    “It was a beautiful night on Friday, with no wind and perfect temperatures, and Saturday was beautiful with blue skies and temperatures in the 80s,” Grishaw said. “We were praising God for the beautiful weather and the success we got to have as a team. Florida State did a great job of running this meet, and it was a cool place to be.”

    A total of 27 out of 30 swimmers on the Flames’ roster currently have at least one qualifying time for the April CCS National Championships at Ohio State, and many have three or more.

    “I don’t know what’s going to happen at (CCS) Nationals, but I am really excited to see what happens,” Davidson said. “Right now, I just want to celebrate our victories, individual and team-wise, and we’ll focus on tomorrow when tomorrow comes. Seeing Liberty’s name on that record board for Southern Regionals is a team victory as well.”

    The Flames will next compete at East Carolina University on Dec. 3, when many of the team members will compete in events they don’t swim normally, for fun and to add to their national qualifying times.

    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer