March 16, 2006
Athens, Ga. - Sixteen Auburn women earned All-America honors on day one of the 2006 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships in Athens, Ga. Two Tigers, Emily Kukors and Hayley Peirsol, and the 200 free relay were top-three finisher's at the Gabrielsen Natatorium as AU sits in second with 151 points, 10 points behind Arizona, with much more swimming and diving to come on Friday and Saturday.
"It was a very good first day," Auburn head coach David Marsh said. "Chelsea Haser was really the spark for us today qualifying in the finals of the 500 freestyle. We are very proud of our individual medley competitors - Emily Kukors, Julie Stupp and Lauren Duerk. We did what we needed to do on the relays. We knew coming in that we wouldn't be blowing anyone out of the water on relays but we have to fight hard to maintain high finishes and we did that with a third and fifth place finish."
All but one Auburn competitor swimming tonight finished in positions higher than their seeding based on the official psyche sheet coming into the NCAA Championships.
"I think we had a very good team effort today," co-women's head coach Dorsey Tierney-Walker said. "I think we had some individuals step up in areas we asked them to. We talked to the team about this meet being six total sessions. We have two down and the meet starts over again tomorrow. I am proud of our efforts today."
It was an orange and blue clad 500 free final as three AU competitors graced the field of eight, each posting lifetime best swims in the morning prelims. Peirsol lowered her career best in the final to grab the runner up spot with a time of 4:41.78 and improve nine spots from her No. 11 seeding. This marks her second runner up finish in her three year career at the NCAA Championships.
"I felt a lot better tonight than I did this morning," Peirsol said. "That is my personal best time, so I'm really happy about that. I felt it was a good race, it was actually pretty fun. We are the closest we have ever been as a team, so hopefully everything will fall into place. I know we came here to do our best. We really have had a great year."
"Our distance swimmers had a real good day," said Tierney-Walker. "Hayley had a phenomenal swim tonight and I am very excited for her and for Adrienne and Chelsea."
Adrienne Binder entered the final as the top seed but was unable to match her swim from the morning, finishing fourth (4:41.99). Newcomer Chelsea Haser ended up in seventh, touching the pads in 4:46.82, to contribute points for her AU squad. Georgia's Laura Conway was the winner with a new pool record of 4:40.01.
Less than 30 minutes after anchoring the third place finishing 200 free relay, Kukors clocked a 1:57.50 in the 200 IM to grab third. Her time was just .14 off her personal best set last year at the NCAA Championships where she finished fourth. Adding crucial points to the AU group was sophomore Julie Stupp, swimming an improved career best 1:59.22 to grab seventh. Senior Lauren Duerk cruised to the win in the consolation finals in a bettered lifetime best time of 1:58.99; she posted a PR in the morning prelim.
"I am so excited to move up a spot from last year," Kukors said. "It was just a great swim. I just put my head down the last 50, freestyle is my strength, and tried to get my hand down on the wall as quick as I could. I am very pleased with third place especially since it was a really tight heat and I was just glad I could get my hand in there."
"Lauren had a very good 200 IM tonight," Tierney-Walker said. "It is very satisfying for someone like Lauren who has earned that over the last four years."
The Tiger 200 free relay entered the finals as the third seed and that is exactly where they finished, swimming 1:30.25. However, the group did move up five spots from their No. 8 seeding. Kara Denby, who turned the fastest leadoff split this season of 22.60 in the morning prelim, led off the relay with a 22.72 split this evening. She was followed by Jana Kolukanova who touched the wall with the strongest split of the group, 22.27. Jeri Moss swam in the third position and Kukors was the anchor, both swimming 22.63 splits.
"Jeri competed on the 200 free relay at the championship for the first time in her career and she did a great job," Tierney-Walker said.
Setting a new NCAA record, held previously by Georgia (1:28.10), Arizona took the relay crown with a blistering time of 1:27.98, to break Georgia's four-year win streak in the event.
Freshman Rachel Goh got off to an amazing start in the 400 medley relay, swimming the fastest 100 backstroke split of the field - 52.50 - and fastest AU split of the season. Duerk followed in the breaststroke position (1:01.99) and Tawnie Bethune clocked the fastest butterfly split of the season (53.05) in the third spot. Kolukanova, swimming her third event of the day, anchored the relay that ended up fifth with a season high - 3:36.15. Arizona completed the sweep of the relays, taking the 400 medley in a pool record time of 3:31.70.
In the 50 free, Kolukanova took second in the consols to finish 10th overall - 22.53. Teammate Denby was sixth in the consolation finals and 14th overall - 22.93. Georgia's Kara Lynn Joyce was the event winner in a new NCAA, American and U.S. Open record time of 21.63.
The second day of competition begins at 11 a.m. ET at the Gabrielsen Natatorium. Live results are available on the Auburn web site at www.auburntigers.com and the Georgia site, www.georgiadogs.com.
- Junior Hayley Peirsol lowered her career best in the 500 free final (4:41.78) to finish second. It was the second time in her three-year career at the championships to finish runner up (she was second in the 1650 free last year).
- Freshman Rachel Goh had the fastest backstroke split of the entire field - 52.50.
- All but one Auburn competitor swimming tonight finished in positions higher than their seeding based on the official psyche sheet coming into the NCAA Championships.
- Junior Adrienne Binder broke her own Auburn record in the 500 free - 4:40.39 - which she held since the SEC Championships in 2005.
- Three Tigers turned in lifetime bests in the 500 free prelims and all qualified for the championship final. This marks the most people Auburn has had in a championship final in the 500 free.
Women's NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships Day 1 Finals - Winner and Auburn Finishes
200 Free Relay
1. Arizona (Cashion, Gresdal, Turner, Kelly) - 1:27.98 (NCAA Record)
3. Denby (22.72), Kolukanova (22.27), Moss (22.62), Kukors (22.63) - 1:30.25
400 Medley Relay
1. Arizona (Gresdal, Sieper, Myers, Nymeyer) - 3:31.70 (pool record)
5. Goh (52.50), Duerk (1:01.99), Bethune (53.05), Kolukanova (48.61) - 3:36.15
1. Arizona - 161
2. Auburn - 151
3. Georgia - 147
4. Stanford - 82
5. California - 79