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    Liberty to Open New Year with Meet at ECU

    Jan 5, 2023 | Lynchburg Va | Swimming & Diving

    Liberty will compete at East Carolina for its first meet of 2023, taking on the Pirates on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Minges Natatorium.

    Liberty’s CCSA Award Winners this Season
    Jr. Maddie Freece – CCSA Women’s Diver of the Week (Oct. 11, Jan. 11)
    Jr. Chloe Harris – CCSA Women’s Swimmer of the Week (Nov. 1)

    Team Notes
    • The Lady Flames are coming off of a second place finish at the TYR ’85 Invite. The same weekend, Liberty’s divers competed at the WVU Invite, highlighted by Maddie Freece’s fifth-place finish in one-meter diving. Liberty won all five relays at the TYR ’85 Invite, while Grace Isaacs (400 IM, 200 fly) and Abbie Shaw (100 back, 100 free) won two individual events each.

    • Liberty has gone 1-2 in dual meets so far this season. On Oct. 1, Liberty defeated Campbell 141-116 at a season-opening dual meet in Buies Creek, N.C. The Lady Flames fell to eight-time defending Conference USA champion FIU last weekend in Miami, 234-214.

    • Liberty saw its athletes post 19 personal-best performances at a dual meet at No. 19 Arkansas on Nov. 4. The Lady Flames opened the meet with wins in the 200 medley relay and 500 freestyle, but fell 177-122.

    • Hosting for the third time, Liberty claimed its fourth CCSA Championship title in a row and fifth in program history in 2022. The Lady Flames won with 1,830.5 points, defeating second-place

    • 13th-year Head Coach Jake Shellenberger has led the Lady Flames from the program’s inception. He has posted a 121-37 dual-meet record, being named CCSA Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year four times (2012, 2014, 2019, 2022). His teams have gone 64-15 all-time against CCSA competition.

    • Last year at the CCSA Championships, the Lady Flames registered 26 podium finishes and nine event victories, to go along with four NCAA B cuts, four NCAA Zone Qualifying scores and one program record.

    • Andrew Helmich led the Lady Flames’ divers to much success during the 2021-22 season, being named CCSA Women’s Diving Coach of the Year. Sophomore Maddie Freece was named CCSA Women’s Diver of the Year. Freece and Lauren Chennault both earned podium finishes on both boards at the 2022 CCSA Championships.

    • Three Lady Flames received CSCAA Individual Scholar All-America honors last season, in Maddie Freece (honorable mention), Abbie Shaw (honorable mention) and Sydney Stricklin (honorable mention).

    • Liberty placed three athletes on the 2022 VaSID All-State University Division Women’s Swimming & Diving team. Maddie Freece became Liberty’s first-ever first team All-State performer, while Lauren Chennault and Jessica Schellenboom were both named to the second team.

    • A total of 10 current Lady Flames have posted CCSA podium finishes in their career, led by seven from Eva Suggs. Jessica Schellenboom and Chloe Harris have posted five podium finishes each. Maddie Freece (4), Olivia Robinson (3), Abby Strohmeier (3), Abbie Shaw (2), Sydney Stricklin (2), Grace Isaacs (1) and Genna Joyce (1), have all podiumed as well.

    Student-Athlete Notes
    • Liberty holds the top time in the CCSA in the 50 back (Abbie Shaw – 25.19), 100 back (Abbie Shaw – 52.94), 100 IM (Chloe Harris – 57.96) and 400 medley relay (3:39.24) this year.

    • Junior Maddie Freece was named CCSA Women’s Diver of the Year as both a freshman and sophomore. She has been named CCSA Diver of the Week twice this season, and has improved her one-meter scores in every meet this season. Freece was named the 2022 Co-Most Outstanding Diver of the CCSA Championship Meet, winning one-meter diving with a program-record score of 320.75 while finishing third in three-meter, scoring 305.90. The sophomore went on to compete at the NCAA Zone A Diving Championships, finishing 17th on three-meter and 25th on one-meter.

    • Junior Chloe Harris holds the top time in the CCSA so far this season in the 100 IM (57.96), third in 100 fly (55.25) and fourth in 200 fly (2:03.01). She has totaled five podium finishes in her career after placing top three in all three events last year. She earned her first career CCSA individual-event victory last year, claiming the 200 butterfly. Harris finished second in the 400 IM and third in the 200 IM at the 2022 CCSA Championships.

    • Junior Abbie Shaw, in her first year after transferring from Kentucky, won both the 100 (53.93) and 200 (1:55.13) backstroke at the 2022 CCSA Championships. That came after Liberty’s Payton Keiner swept both backstroke events at the conference meet each of the previous three seasons. She led off the 200 medley relay in an NCAA B cut 52.94 at the TYR ’85 Invite, just the fifth CCSA women’s swimmer to break 53 seconds in the 100 backstroke.

    • Senior Olivia Robinson, the 2019 VaSID State Rookie Diver of the Year, has posted three CCSA podium finishes in her career, including third place on three-meter in 2020. She holds Liberty’s record for platform diving (229.58), a discipline where she placed 15th at the NCAA Zone Championships in both 2019 and 2020. Robinson returns for her fifth year.

    • Senior Eva Suggs, the 2020 Most Outstanding Female Newcomer of the CCSA Meet, posted three podium finishes as a freshman and two each of the last two years. She has won three straight CCSA 200 freestyle titles, leading a 1-2-3 Liberty podium sweep all three times. Suggs currently ranks third in program history in the 200 freestyle (1:47.82), and this season, she is third in the CCSA in the 200 free (1:49.70).

    • Sophomore Sydney Stricklin holds the third best time in the CCSA this year in the 100 free (50.27). Stricklin was the fifth Lady Flame in the last six years to be named Most Outstanding Freshman of the CCSA Championships. She came from behind to upset reigning CCSA champion Tori Czarnecka in the 100 free last year, winning in lifetime-best, NCAA B cut time of 49.48. Stricklin also finished second in the CCSA 100 fly in 54.49.

    • Sophomore Grace Isaacs won the CCSA title in the 400 IM as a freshman in 2022. She is currently ranked third in program history in the 400 IM (4:17.31). Isaacs has the second fastest 400 IM (4:22.18) in the CCSA this season.

    • Freshman Grace Shaw has won the 1000 freestyle in all three of Liberty’s dual meets so far this season, winning individual events on the same day as her sister, Abbie Shaw. Grace Shaw’s 10:09.58 is the second fastest 1000 free in the conference in 2022-23.

    • Senior Jessica Schellenboom earned her fifth career CCSA medal, finishing second in the 200 breaststroke in NCAA B cut time of 2:12.81. Her fourth-place time of 1:01.45 in the 100 breaststroke would have finished top three at every CCSA Championship before last year. Schellenboom is ranked second in program history in the 200 breaststroke and third in 100 breaststroke.

    • Junior Heather Gardner (1:01.94 – 100 breaststroke) have the third fastest time in the conference this season. Meanwhile, Penn State transfer Shelby Kahn is second in the 200 free (1:49.60). Junior Genna Joyce is ranked third in the conference in the 200 breaststroke (2:15.90). Freshmen Eden Troxell won the 1650 freestyle at the TYR ’85 Invite in 16:54.63, the third fastest mile by a CCSA swimmer so far this season.

    Matchup Highlights
    • Liberty is 1-0 all-time against East Carolina in swimming & diving, defeating the Pirates 339-73 in a tri meet that also included Penn State, Oct. 29-30, 2021 at Liberty Natatorium.

    • Liberty’s divers competed at ECU earlier this season, on Oct. 8 at Minges Natatorium. Maddie Freece earned first place in one-meter diving, while ECU’s Anna Otto won three-meter.

    • Liberty junior Rachel Strickland began her collegiate swimming career at East Carolina before transferring to Liberty following her freshman season of 2019-20.

    • East Carolina holds a 4-2 record this season, defeating Campbell, Barton, Chowan and Richmond and falling to CCSA programs UNC Asheville and James Madison. The Pirates’ program was reinstated in January 2021 after disbanding following the 2019-20 season.

    • ECU’s Caitlin Reynera (100 breaststroke – 1:01.93) and Polina Rukosuev (1650 freestyle – 16:40.24) both earned third-place finishes at the 2022 AAC Championships.

    • The Lady Flames are 41-4 all-time in dual meets contested in North Carolina. Liberty has won 40 straight dual meets inside the Tar Heel State.

    Up Next
    The Lady Flames will host VMI next Friday, Jan. 13 at 5 p.m. at Liberty Natatorium.