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    April 8, 2018 Atlanta, Ga. RSS |

    Competing in the inaugural Collegiate Club Swimming & Diving National Championships, sanctioned by USA Masters Swimming, Liberty University's first-year program scored a total of 152 points to finish 13th out of 120 schools, Friday through Sunday in Atlanta. The meet was held at Georgia Tech's McAuley Aquatic Center, site of the 1996 Summer Olympics swimming and diving competitions.

    Ohio State won the men's national title, ahead of runner-up Virginia and third-place Georgia Tech. Factoring in the women's results, the host Yellow Jackets were the overall champions, followed by UVA and Ohio State. The meet attracted 2,100 swimmers from all over the country for a total of over 7,000 entries over the weekend.

    Flames divers Garrett Campbell, Matthew MacDonald, and Jordan Dennett placed 12th, 14th, and 15th, respectively in the 1-meter diving competition, earning 9, 7, and 6 team points. They were 12th, 15th, and 16th, respectively, in the 3-meter diving event, adding 9, 6, and 5 points to the team total.

    "To have three divers able to score 42 points was huge," Liberty Head Coach Parker Spencer said. "(NCAA Division I Women's Diving Coach) Tori Wood has been working really well with them, taking guys who had never done the sport before to where they were able to place in the national championships, so she did a really awesome job and we were blessed to have her."

    Sophomore transfer Noah Miller matched Campbell to score the most points among the dozen Flames' swimmers (18). He placed fourth in the 200-yard butterfly and swam a leg of the eighth-place 800-yard freestyle relay, which also featured Javier Lluch Perez of Spain, junior Charles Fernandez, and freshman Ben Klipp.

    Individually, Perez placed 12th in the 1,000 free and 14th in the 500 free for a total of 16 points and freshman Bobby Hammond added 11 points by placing 13th in the 1,000 free.

    Fernandez, who represented Guatemala in the pentathlon at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, scored seven points in the 200 free and Klipp added four points by placing 17th in the 500 free.

    Liberty swimmers huddle before their relay race.

    Liberty's 200 free relay team of freshman David Schafer, Miller, Fernandez, and Klipp finished in a five-way tie for 15th in 1 minute, 27.27 seconds.

    Complete results are available online.

    Spencer expects to qualify at least as many swimmers and divers for next year's national championships, when qualifying standards will be higher and USA Masters Swimming will add regional meets to pare down the number of participants.

    "It was a successful first year that we can build off," he said. "We are light years ahead of where we were in the first year of me taking on the triathlon team and starting up the cycling team. The good thing is we've got a very young team. … We have a really solid foundation."


    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer