Full Club Sports Schedule

    Team News

    January 28, 2022 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    Despite having the top two and three of the top five individual point scorers, Liberty University’s men’s swim team was overcome by reigning Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) champion Roanoke College in Tuesday night’s dual meet at the Liberty Natatorium, 165-93.

    “As far as dual meets, (Roanoke) is the fastest team we’ve swam (against),” said Flames senior Matt Davidson, who finished first in the 50-yard freestyle (21.27 seconds), the 100 free (46.91), and the 100 backstroke (54.24) and swam legs of the second-place 200 medley and 200 free relays. “They posted some fast times today and it was a lot of fun to swim against them. Some events, we definitely gave them a run for their money … but being a DIII team, their quality is just a little bit deeper than ours.”

    Senior Robert Boehme won the 500 free in 4 minutes, 58.4 seconds, placed second in the 200 free in 1:48.26, and won the 200 IM in 1:59.59. Sophomore Jonathan Tonnell won the 50 backstroke in 26.03, came in second in the 100 back in 57.04, and finished fifth in the 50 free in 23.55; freshman Tyler Suchyj placed third in the 100 breast stroke in 1:03.57 and sixth in the 100 IM (58.47) and 200 IM (2:11.36); and freshman Trent Kolter took third in the 100 butterfly (54.55), fourth in the 50 fly (24.61), and fifth in the 100 IM (56.99) to pace the Flames. Complete results are available online.

    “A lot of our guys posted some really good times for only having had two and a half to three weeks of training post-Christmas Break,” Davidson said. “So that was huge seeing some of those times. Having a few more weeks to train before going to UVA (at the Wet Wahoo Invitational on Feb. 19), getting faster and then just putting our heads down for the last few weeks until (College Club Swimming (CCS)) Nationals (at Georgia Tech in Atlanta), I think we’re going to do really, really well.”

    “Today was a really good starting point to let the guys see, ‘Hey, this is where you’re at. This is how you’re feeling. Are you ready, or are you not?’” Flames Head Coach Heath Grishaw added. “Competition-wise, we just wanted to see them race today, and I thought we swam very well. Times weren’t what I was looking for. It was more how we raced. When it came to some of those closer races … we were always out-touching (Roanoke swimmers), and I was happy with that.”

    Suchyj, a Delaware native who came to the Natatorium as the lone representative from the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s (UMBC) NCAA Division I program when the Flames hosted the CCS Eastern Regional Championships on Nov. 6-7, transferred to Liberty this semester.

    “The whole reason why I transferred here was the fit, and just being with a group of guys like them and for the accountability aspect of them to really push me to be better, and for me to push them to be better as well,” he said. “It’s just a whole team atmosphere which was lacking at UMBC that I get here. It’s really a whole cultural shellshock to me, being with a team again.”

    Suchyj said the Natatorium was a great selling point, but the team culture created by Head Coach Heath Grishaw and Assistant Coach Ben Klipp was the biggest draw.

    “I just saw that this camaraderie and the accountability they held for everybody was something that I wanted to be a part of … and I decided, ‘Let’s go,’” said Suchyj, who studies electrical engineering. “It’s one of the nicest pools I’ve swam in, and it is a great atmosphere to come into the pool every day … and grinding it out with everybody else and just having that team behind your back to push you.”

    Tyler Suchyj, a spring semester transfer from UMBC, stands on the Liberty Natatorium pool deck with Head Coach Heath Grishaw on Tuesday night.

    Grishaw said he values his swimmers’ mental health and spiritual wellbeing above their physical performances.

    “In this sport, everybody just needs a support system,” he said. “Swimming’s really, really hard, mentally, on a lot of athletes. To see these guys rise to the occasion and battle every single day in the water, I’m just letting them know that I support them no matter what their times are at the end of the day. I’m here for them mentally, help them spiritually as an encourager, and am here physically for them at practices. That’s what we try to do.”

    The Flames are looking forward to next month’s meet at Virginia’s Aquatic Center.

    “UVA’s a good club team that we love swimming against,” Grishaw said. “They’re very deep when it comes to having a lot of athletes and they have 60 for men and women, so they’re a very large team. When you look at the event rankings for (CCS) nationals, you see UVA scattered all through that, so they’re a great team to race.”

    “We’ve got to bring it (to UVA, with) no letdowns,” Suchyj added. “We’re going to go all out. They’ve got some talented guys. They’re going for it and they’re going to bring it, too. There’ll be some good races. Hopefully, we’ll really shape up and get focused and grind out the next eight weeks or so until nationals and hit it hard and keep going.”


    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer