Feb. 22, 2014
ATHENS, Ga. - Senior Marcelo Chierighini defended his 100 freestyle title for the third straight season and set the SEC record for the event with his split in Auburn's first-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay in front of a sellout crowd on the final day of the 2014 SEC Swimming and Diving Championships in Athens, Ga.
The senior swam the nation's fastest time of the year in the men's 100 free at 41.90 to earn his third straight SEC title in the event, then lowered his time again in Auburn's win the 400 free relay with a split of 41.46 that broke former Tiger Matt Targett's SEC record of 41.55 set back in 2009. Chierighini now holds the second-fastest time in school history and the nation's top time in the 100 free.
"I just wanted to help my teammates score as many points as possible. I didn't really care about the time, I just wanted to defend my title," Chierighini said. "Coach Hawke and all the other coaches have helped me a lot, all these titles I have won while at Auburn are from their help."
The senior becomes the first Auburn swimmer since Cesar Cielo (2006-08) to win three straight gold medals in the 100 free, giving Chierighini his fourth individual SEC gold of his career and the Tigers' 11th straight title in the event. He was joined on the podium by Kyle Darmody, who continued his great performance at the conference championship as the freshman turned in a 42.40, finishing third in the 100 free to pick up his third individual medal of the week. Sophomore Arthur Mendes set a new personal record at 42.94 to finish sixth in the championship final.
"Marcelo put together an outstanding performance tonight in winning the 100 free, then breaking the SEC record on the leadoff of the 400 free relay," Auburn head coach Brett Hawke said of the 15-time SEC Champion. "Marcelo is one of the best and he's a great team leader for our team along with all of our seniors."
The Tigers capped off the championships with a bang, setting the nation's fastest time in the 400 freestyle relay in the meet's final event. Chierighini's leadoff split of 41.46 was too much for the rest of the field as Disney-May, Mendes and Darmody kept everyone in their rearview mirror, touching in at 2:47.49, over three seconds ahead of second-place Florida.
Auburn's men finished in second place with 1,280.5 points as Florida won the SEC Championship on the men's side with 1,480 points. Georgia came in third with 1,095 points, Alabama was fourth scoring 798 points and Tennessee was fifth at 780.
"The men had a really good meet, we just got out-numbered in the end. Hats off to Florida for an outstanding performance, but I'm definitely proud of our men and how they came back the last two days. After getting down they battled back; I'm very proud of how they finished," Hawke said.
In the women's competition, Auburn finished fourth in the team standings after a solid three days of performances vaulted the Tigers from ninth to fourth. Georgia won the SEC Championships scoring 1,589 points, Texas A&M was the runner-up with 1,204 and Florida finished third at 1,130.
"We started off with the disqualification in the 200 medley relay and ended up finishing really strong," Hawke said. "I'm proud of the women for fighting back, sticking together and getting past Tennessee in the end."
On the men's side, Zane Grothe finished fifth in the 1,650 freestyle giving the senior four career top-five finishes in the event at the SEC Championships. Junior Tommy McKee was just .57 from cracking the top-10 in the 1,650 free in school history, finishing 15th overall at 15:19.90.
Freshman Michael Duderstadt, who swam the fourth-best time in school history at 52.67 in the Saturday prelims in the 200 breast, took seventh overall. Peter Haas won the C-final to claim 17th overall in his final SEC competition, while Jordan was 22nd clocking a 1:59.56.
Joe Patching finished 10th overall as the runner-up in the consolation final of the 200 back at 1:43.57.
In the women's 200 back, Aubrey Peacock was the top-finisher for the Tigers taking fourth in a crowded field that saw two Olympians on the podium. Peacock swam the school's fourth-best time ever at 1:53.41 to improve on her PR set earlier in prelims. Sophomore Jillian Vitarius took eighth overall at 1:54.98 after making the championship final in the 200 back for the second straight year. Sarah Reynolds swam the seventh-best time of the night at 1:54.43 to win the C-final.
Two Auburn divers qualified for the women's platform final as Cinzia Calabretta and Shanna Schuelein appeared in their fist A-final on the tower at the SEC Championships. Schuelein took sixth overall with five-list score of 263.45, while Calabretta posted a 262.85 to take seventh. Carly Scheper just missed the final by 2.30 points, taking ninth at 259.15. Morgan Mullins set a PR at 245.20 to finish 15th overall.
"Cinzia and Shanna both finished strong. What a great week of diving at the SEC Championships. We came with a goal of everyone to score and be better than average that if you take it one dive at a time and improve on your averages good things happen," Auburn diving coach Jeff Shaffer said. "It wasn't perfect, but it was really good. I'm really proud of them and should give us a great deal of confidence heading into the NCAA Zone B Meet."
Freshman Natasha Lloyd was Auburn's lone qualifier in the 200 breast and was fast off the blocks to finish 21st overall at 2:13.91 as she lowered her season-best time down over seven seconds during the SEC Championships. In the women's 1,650 freestyle freshman Ashley Neidigh swam the 10th-best time by Auburn swimmer in school history at 16:23.84 to take 13th overall in the timed finals.
Auburn's women ended its run at the SEC Championships, taking fifth in the 400 free relay at 3:36.11 to earn an NCAA automatic qualifying time in the event.
Both Auburn teams now begin to prepare for the upcoming NCAA Championships. The women's competition will be held in Minneapolis, Minn., starting March 20-22, while the men's nationals take place in Austin, Texas. Auburn's divers will beginning prepping for the NCAA Zone B Championships in the Greensboro, N.C., set for March 10-12.
Auburn Swimming & Diving
2014 SEC Championships - Day 5
February 22, 2014
Gabrielsen Natatorium - Athens, Ga.
Men's Team Scores: Florida 1440, Auburn 1280.5¸ Georgia 1,095, Alabama 798, Missouri 742.5, Tennessee 713, Texas A&M 609, Kentucky 532, LSU 531, South Carolina 491
Women's Team Scores: Georgia 1589, Texas A&M 1204, Florida 1130, Auburn 804, Tennessee 780, Arkansas 572, LSU 548, Alabama 526, Missouri 475.5, Kentucky 532, LSU 531, South Carolina 491.
Women's 1,650 Freestyle
13. Ashley Neidigh (16:23.84) (PR)
Men's 200 Backstroke
10. Joe Patching (1:43.57)
Women's 200 Breaststroke
21. Natasha Lloyd (2:13.91) (PR)
Men's 400 Freestyle Relay
1. Chierighini, Disney-May, Mendes, Darmody (2:47.49)
Women's 400 Freestyle Relay
5. Krakoski, Purcell, Merritt, Bos (3:16.11)
- Marcelo Chierighini became the first Auburn swimmer since Cesar Cielo to win three straight 100 free SEC titles. Chierighini's time was the fastest time in the nation this season.
- Chierighini's split of 41.46 is an SEC record, second-fastest time in Auburn history and occurred on the 400 free relay leadoff
- Chierighini now has 15 SEC titles (four individuals, 11 relays) which is tied for second with Fred Bosquet
- Kyle Darmody earned his fifth medal of the week, placing third in the 100 free. Darmody finishes with three gold medals and two bronzes at the 2014 SEC Championships.
- Aubrey Peacock posted the fourth-best time in school history at 1:53.51 for a new personal best in the 200 back
- Sarah Reynolds turned in the 7th-fastest time of the night in the 200 back, winning the C-final at 1:54.43.
- All four divers on the women's side recorded personal records in the platform prelims on Saturday.