The Liberty swimming & diving team takes its unbeaten record to Huntington, W.Va., for a two-day meet at Marshall, Friday and Saturday at the Fredrick A. Fitch Natatorium. Friday's action begins at 6 pm., while on Saturday, the first event will be at 11 a.m.
Liberty (7-0) has posted a 4-0 all-time record against Marshall (0-2). Last season, the Lady Flames edged the Thundering Herd 160-140 on Jan. 13, 2018 at the Liberty Natatorium before defeating Marshall the next weekend by a 177-123 score in Huntington, W.Va.
Liberty's CCSA Weekly Honorees (2018-19) CCSA Swimmer of the Week – Fr. Gianni Pitto (Oct. 2, 2018); R-So. Mikayla Herich (Oct. 31, 2018) CCSA Diver of the Week – Fr. Olivia Robinson (Oct. 31, 2018)
Oct. 31, 2018 was the second time in program history that Liberty swept both CCSA weekly honors in the same week. The first time was Oct. 20, 2015, when Kendall Hough (Swimmer) and Courtney Fox (Diver) earned awards.
Liberty has the top performances in the CCSA this season in the following events: Platform diving (5) – 198.37 (Olivia Robinson) 50 freestyle – 23.27 (Colleen Donlin) 200 freestyle – 1:52.03 (Emily Zimcosky) 500 freestyle – 5:01.71 (Emily Manly) 1000 freestyle – 10:22.80 (Mikayla Herich) 100 backstroke – 55.42 (Brittany Weiss) 200 backstroke – 1:59.88 (Payton Keiner) 100 breaststroke – 1:03.72 (Gianni Pitto) 200 butterfly – 2:02.00 (Alicia Finnigan) 200 IM – 2:05.17 (Mikayla Herich) 400 IM – 4:25.50 (Mikayla Herich)
Team Notes • Liberty was impressive in its home debut, sweeping BYU, Gardner-Webb and Old Dominion during the All-American Celebration Meet, Oct. 26-27 at the Liberty Natatorium. It marked the first time in Liberty Athletics history to host BYU in any sport.
• The Lady Flames have now won 15 dual meets in a row, dating back to the Gardner-Webb Tri Meet on Oct. 27, 2017.
• Liberty has finished second at the CCSA Swimming & Diving Championships six times in the last seven years, with its lone CCSA title to date coming in 2014.
• Ninth-year Head Coach Jake Shellenberger has led the Lady Flames from the program's inception. He has posted a 91-30 dual-meet record, twice being named CCSA Women's Swimming Coach of the Year. His teams have gone 49-14 all-time against CCSA competition.
• Liberty has added its largest incoming class since the first year of the program, bringing in 14 new student-athletes (10 swimmers, four divers). This includes 11 freshmen, along with transfers Mikayla Herich (Ohio), Emily Zimcosky (Ohio) and Arielle Arnett (Oakland).
• Five Lady Flames earned CSCAA Scholar All-America honors last season. Alicia Finnigan and Payton Keiner were named to the first team, while Hannah Baker, Kiah Francis and Brittany Weiss received honorable mention.
• Eight current Lady Flames have posted CCSA podium finishes in their career, led by Alicia Finnigan with seven. Hannah Baker has earned three top-three finishes, while Brittany Weiss and Payton Keiner have two podium finishes each. Lindsey Cohee, Colleen Donlin, Kiah Francis and Emily Manly have each posted one podium finish.
Student-Athlete Notes • Freshman Olivia Robinson won the three-meter diving event at the All-American Celebration Meet, the first Lady Flame to win a diving event at a dual meet. She set program records in three-meter (281.25) and platform (198.37) at that meet, and earned an NCAA Zone Qualifying score in three-meter. She holds all three program diving records, also setting the one-meter record (259.65) at James Madison.
• Redshirt sophomore Mikayla Herich won the 200 IM (2:05.17) and 400 IM (4:25.50) at the All-American Celebration Meet. Both of those swims, in addition to her 1000 freestyle (10:22.80), are all the top times in those respective events in the CCSA so far this season.
• Freshman Gianni Pitto has won an impressive 10 individual events so far this season, winning both the 100 breaststroke and 200 breaststroke four times and claiming the 400 IM twice.
• Junior Brittany Weiss won the 100 backstroke in 11 straight meets before placing second at the All-American Celebration meet with a season-best time of 55.42.
• Junior Colleen Donlin has won the 50 freestyle in each of Liberty's last six dual meets, a streak that started on Jan. 20, 2018.
• Defending CCSA Women's Swimmer of the Year Alicia Finnigan has won the 200 fly in all four traditional dual meets this season.
• Sophomore Payton Keiner swam 1:59.88 in the 200 backstroke at the All-American Celebration Meet, becoming the first Liberty swimmer to break 2:00 in the 200 back in a regular-season meet.
• Keiner returns after earning 2018 Most Outstanding Freshman of the CCSA Meet honors. She won the 200 back and finished second in the 100 back at the CCSA Championships, and went on to compete in both events at the NCAA national meet. She holds the CCSA record in the 200 back (1:53.68).
• Three Liberty newcomers, transfer Mikayla Herich (1000 free) and freshmen Gianni Pitto (100 breaststroke, 200 breaststroke, 400 IM) and Emma Hazel (200 back) won in their Liberty debut at Campbell. Fellow newcomers, transfers Emily Zimcosky (Ohio) and Arielle Arnett (Oakland), earned their first victories as Lady Flames at New Mexico State.
• Senior Alicia Finnigan was named the NCAA ELITE 90 Award winner for having the top GPA at the 2018 NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championships. Finnigan also earned Google Cloud At-Large Academic All-America second team honors.
• Finnigan, the 2018 CCSA Women's Swimmer of the Year, won the 200 fly at the CCSA Championships for the second year in a row before making her second straight appearance at the NCAA Championships.
• Weiss repeated as CCSA champion in the 100 back last season, winning in program-record 52.81. She was named the 2017 Most Outstanding Freshman of the CCSA Meet.
• Sophomore Kiah Francis set the program 400 IM record at 4:18.70, taking second in the event at the CCSA meet.
Marshall Marshall finished third at the 2018 Conference USA Swimming & Diving Championships, its third straight third-place conference finish. The Herd's top returners are Catherine Bendziewicz and Jordyn O'Dell, who both earned CSCAA Scholar All-America honorable mention in 2017-18. Bendziewicz has twice won the 200 IM at the C-USA Championships, while O'Dell was bronze medalist in the 100 back last year.
Order of Events Nov. 9, 2018 (Diving events will be held concurrently with swimming events) 200 Medley Relay 1000 Freestyle 200 Freestyle 50 Freestyle 400 IM 10-minute break 100 Butterfly 100 Freestyle 100 Backstroke 500 Freestyle 10-minute break 100 Breaststroke 200 Freestyle Relay
Nov. 10, 2018 11 a.m. (Diving events will be held concurrently with swimming events) 400 Medley Relay 500 Freestyle 200 Freestyle 50 Free 100 IM 15-minute break 50 Butterfly 100 Freestyle 50 Backstroke 50 Breaststroke 400 Freestyle Relay
Up Next Liberty will host an in-season invitational for the first time in program history, hosting the Liberty Invitational next Friday through Sunday. The Lady Flames will get a preview of the meet format for the 2019 CCSA Swimming & Diving Championships, which will be held at the Liberty Natatorium, Feb. 20-23.
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