Jake Shellenberger was hired as the department’s first-ever head women’s swimming coach on July 29, 2009. Since that time, Shellenberger has set about building the Lady Flames into a strong contender in the pool.
Shellenberger has posted a 115-33 dual-meet record, leading the Lady Flames to four CCSA titles (2014, 2019, 2020, 2021) and six conference runner-up finishes (2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018) to date.
He was instrumental in the design of the state-of-the-art Liberty Natatorium, which opened Dec. 1, 2017 and was dedicated on Jan. 26, 2018. The Liberty Natatorium seats 1,400 fans in a bowl configuration. It features a nine-lane, 50-meter pool with a movable bulkhead. A separate 17-foot diving well includes 1- and 3-meter springboards and a three-column tower. Among many other features, the natatorium is pre-wired for TV broadcasts.
Shellenberger has earned three CCSA Swimming Coach of the Year honors, including 2012 (conference runner-up finish), 2014 (conference championship) and 2019 (conference championship).
The Lady Flames earned their third straight CCSA title, sharing the 2021 CCSA Championship with FGCU as both teams scored 1,748.5 points. Senior Payton Keiner (200 backstroke) became the third swimmer in conference history to win four straight CCSA titles in the same event. Freshman Maddie Freece won both one-meter and three-meter diving, earning CCSA Women’s Diver of the Year honors. Liberty earned 21 podium finishes, seven event victories, one program record, three NCAA Zone Qualifying scores and four NCAA B cuts.
Liberty claimed the 2020 championship with 1,566 points. Mikayla Herich was named Most Outstanding Performer of the CCSA Meet, while Eva Suggs earned Most Outstanding Freshman of the CCSA Meet. For the second year in a row, Liberty set program records for podium finishes (29) and event victories (14) at a CCSA Championship meet, and earned 10 B cuts. Junior Payton Keiner was named a CSCAA All-American after being invited to compete at the NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships. The Lady Flames also posted their 100th dual-meet victory during the season-opening Penn State Sprint Fest on Oct. 4, 2019.
The Lady Flames hosted the 2019 CCSA Championships, scoring a meet-record 1,859.5 points while ousting four-time defending champion FGCU by nearly 200 points. It came five years to the day after Liberty’s first championship. Gianni Pitto was named Most Outstanding Freshman of the CCSA Meet, the third straight year a Liberty swimmer has won the award. Liberty finished the meet with program records for both podium finishes (27) and event victories (10) at a CCSA Championship meet, and earned eight B cuts.
In 2017-18, Liberty finished second at the CCSA Championships, with 1,501.5 points. For the conference meet as a whole, the Lady Flames registered a program-record-tying 20 podium finishes, 16 NCAA B cuts, nine program records, two conference records, four meet records and nine event victories. Payton Keiner was named Most Outstanding Female Freshman of the CCSA Meet, and joined Alicia Finnigan at the 2018 NCAA Championships. Finnigan received the sport’s highest academic honor, being named the NCA ELITE 90 Award recipient for having the highest GPA among any student athlete at the NCAA Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships. Finnigan was later voted the CCSA Women’s Swimming ot the Year.
The 2016-17 season saw the Lady Flames earn their third straight conference runner-up finish. Alicia Finnigan and Prudence Rooker both recorded three podium finishes at the CCSA Championships. Freshman Brittany Weiss became the third Lady Flame to be named the Most Outstanding Freshman of the CCSA Meet. Finnigan went on to break the CCSA record in the 200 fly before making her first career appearance in the NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships.
In 2015-16, the Lady Flames earned their highest national rankings to date, listed 26th in the CollegeSwimming.com Team Rankings and No. 4 in the CollegeSwimming.com Mid-Major Rankings on Oct. 6. After defeating TCU, Liberty has defeated a team from each Power Five conference at least once.
In just the fourth year in program history, Shellenberger coached the Lady Flames to the 2014 CCSA Championship title, holding off five-time defending champion Florida Gulf Coast, 732.5 to 718.5. During the 2014 conference meet, the Lady Flames recorded 18 podium finishes, nine B cuts, one A cut (200 medley relay), six CCSA records, six meet records and 16 program records.
During the 2013-14 season, Liberty was ranked as highly as 13th in the College Swimming.com Mid-Major Ranking, while making it to 48th in the Endless Pools/CollegeSwimming.com National Rankings.
Liberty placed 43rd at the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving National Championships, making its third straight NCAA nationals appearance. Sophomore Jess Reinhardt became Liberty’s highest-placing individual at nationals, finishing 10th in the 100 fly in a CCSA-record time of 51.72.
Liberty posted its second runner-up finish in a row, taking second place at the 2013 CCSA Swimming & Diving Championships. The Lady Flames earned their first national ranking in program history during the 2012-13 season, being ranked No. 37 in the Endless Pools/CollegeSwimming.com Top 25.
During Liberty’s second year as a program, the team earned its first All-America honor, as Brye Ravettine placed 13th in the 50 free at the 2012 NCAA Division I Swimming and Diving Championships. Ravettine was also named 2012 CCSA Swimmer of the Year and Swimmer of the Meet.
Ravettine was listed on the Mid-Major All-America list by CollegeSwimming.com during 2011 and 2012, while Cori Gary was named to the honorable mention team in 2012. In addition, the 2011-12 recruiting class received mention on CollegeSwimming.com.
The Lady Flames have also competed on the national stage, including USA Swimming Nationals and Winter Nationals, in addition to the Olympic Trials. Ravettine placed 17th in the 50-meter free at the 2011 USA Swimming Winter National Championships, qualifying her for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Ravettine, Laura Day and Reinhardt all competed in Olympic Trials during 2012. Emilie Kaufman and Day qualified for finals in the 100-meter breaststroke at the 2013 U.S. Open, with Kaufman taking 13th place overall. Finnigan tied for 10th in the 200-meter butterfly at the 2017 Phillips 66 Championships while finishing 10th in the 200 fly at the 2018 Phillips 66 Nationals. Finnigan finished fifth in the 200 fly at the 2018 USA Swimming Winter Nationals, qualifying for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
Prior to joining the Liberty staff, Shellenberger served as an assistant coach on Penn State’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving coaching staff. During his three-year stint with the Nittany Lions, Shellenberger worked primarily with Penn State’s male and female sprinters.
While at Penn State, Shellenberger instructed 15 NCAA qualifiers, 13 school record holders, eight NCAA All-America honorable-mention performers, two Olympic Trials finalists, two NCAA All-Americans and the Nittany Lions’ first-ever individual national champion (Pat Schirk/2008 national champion in the men’s 200 backstroke).
Besides writing and directing Penn State’s dryland and yearly plyometric and strength programs, Shellenberger focused on the Nittany Lions’ recruiting efforts. His first recruiting class at Penn State was ranked No. 21 nationally by CollegeSwimming.com, while his second was listed at No. 15.
During the summer of 2007, Shellenberger served as a volunteer assistant coach at Arizona, where he worked under Arizona head coach and USA Olympic coach Frank Busch and Rick DeMont, the Wildcats’ world-renowned sprint coach.
Prior to his days at Penn State and Arizona, Shellenberger got his collegiate coaching start as the head women’s swimming coach at Millersville University in 2006. He also gained valuable coaching experience as an assistant coach under Pete Clark at the Trident Swim Club in Lancaster, Pa., and as an assistant coach under Donnie Miller at Chambersburg Area Senior High School.
Shellenberger graduated from Shippensburg University with a Bachelor of Arts in history in December 2005, while receiving a minor in coaching. He was a four-year member of the Raiders’ swimming program, captaining the team during the 2004-05 season.
Shellenberger is a former Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and a current member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, American Swimming Coaches Association, and the College Swimming Coaches Association of America. In 2016 he published a book on Power Tower training for swimming, selling more than 700 copies worldwide, to date.
During the summer of 2012, Shellenberger married the former Lorin Milotta, and the couple resides on a farm in Forest, Va. with their sons Eli and Levi, and daughter, Clara.
In 11 years of program history
• Three-time CCSA Coach of the Year (2012, 2014, 2019)
• 4 CCSA Conference titles (2014, 2019, 2020, 2021)
• 6 CCSA Conference Runner-up finishes
• 115–33 Dual Meet Record
• 42 CCSA Individual Championships
• 20 CCSA Relay Champions
• 14 CCSA Conference Records (8 individual, 6 relay)
• 12 CCSA Conference Meet Records (6 individual, 6 relay)
• 7 NCAA Championship Appearances
• 3 NCAA All-Americans
• 1 NCAA Elite 90 Award Winner
• 3 CollegeSwimming.com Mid-Major All-Americans
• 2 CCSA Women’s Swimmers of the Year
• 1 CCSA Women’s Diver of the Year
• 2 CCSA Women’s Swimmers of the Meet
• 2 CCSA Women’s Divers of the Meet
• 6 CCSA Women’s Freshmen of the Meet
• 39 CCSA Swimmer/Diver of the Week Honors
• 19 VaSID All-State Honors
• 20 CSCAA Scholar All-America Team Awards
• 39 CSCAA Scholar All-America Individual Awards
• 3 CoSIDA At-Large Academic All-Americans
• 3 CoSIDA At-Large Academic All-District Honors
• 4 VaSID Academic All-State Mentions
• 2 US Olympic Trials appearances (2012, 2016)
• 6 USA Swimming National scoring performances (2012 Winter Nationals, 2013 US Open, 2017 Phillips 66 Nationals, 2018 Phillips 66 Nationals, 2018 Winter Nationals, 2019 Phillips 66 Nationals)