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    November 26, 2018 Forest, Va. RSS |

    The first commitment for Liberty University's men's swimming & diving team for the 2019-20 recruiting class, Matthew Davidson from nearby Forest, Va., is among the most decorated swimmers for the second-year program.

    Liberty Head Coach Heath Grishaw has coached Davidson on both the extremely competitive Lynchburg YMCA club team and the recreational Wildwood Stingrays summer league swim team in recent years.

    "We have been in contact with him for a while," Grishaw said. "He's definitely a high-end (NCAA) Division I-caliber swimmer with the times that he has had, and a top athlete all-around. He is the real deal."

    On the two-time defending Virginia High School League (VHSL) Class 4A state champion Jefferson Forest High School boys swim team, Davidson holds all-time school records in the 100-yard backstroke and 200 medley relay, which set a VHSL Class 4A record in winning the state title last winter.

    For the Lynchburg YMCA team, Davidson holds club records in the 100 and 200 back, 50 and 100 freestyle and several relays. He has competed in the YMCA long-course and short course national championships.

    Jefferson Forest High School senior Matthew Davidson

    He committed to Liberty after being recruited by a handful of NCAA Division I programs.

    "When he came to Liberty, he had a feeling that he was at home, being on campus and seeing the benefits we have to offer, and all the amenities we get to use," Grishaw said.

    Davidson, the younger brother of sophomore Ben Davidson who swam for the Flames last fall, had the opportunity to compete at the Liberty Natatorium with his Lynchburg YMCA team over the summer and again in September, when he met members of the current Liberty swim team.

    "I love the facility and I really do like the team atmosphere there," Davidson said.

    Davidson has aspirations of qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2020, but will place a high priority on academics at Liberty, where he plans to major in exercise science.

    "I want to get a good education and see where God takes me," he said. "As far as swimming, I am hoping to go to (Collegiate Club Swimming) Nationals and win a national title my first year there next year."

    A two-time USA Swimming Scholastic All-America Team member, Davidson is one of 16 finalists for the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame Student Athlete Achievement Award, which recognizes the top student-athletes at any classification in all sports state-wide.

    "That means a lot to me, to be able to show what I've been able to do through hard work and with God working through me," Davidson said.

    "He meshes well with the Christian culture here," Grishaw added. "He definitely wants to put his faith first. Swimming is something he is able to glorify God through and Liberty is a place he can do that more than at other schools."


    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer