March 18, 2006
Athens, Ga. - The Auburn women's swimming and diving team captured its fourth national title in the last five years on Saturday in dramatic fashion as the meet was decided in the evening's final event. Auburn, which has won titles in 2002, '03, '04, and in '06, finished with 518.5 points, while host Georgia was second with 515.5, in the second-closest NCAA championships ever.
Leading by five points entering the final event, the 400 freestyle relay, Auburn at worst needed Georgia to finish second and the Tigers third, and that's exactly what happened as Arizona captured the event, followed by the Bulldogs and Tigers.
"That was thrilling, what a way to finish," said Auburn head coach David Marsh. "That was the best last day we've ever had in Auburn swimming, especially from where we started the meet. We came alive this morning. We had the performances tonight, one after another, and that's what we needed. The teams hard work this year and the passion that Dorsey Tierney-Walker has put into this team, and the rest of the staff, made a difference."
Auburn entered the evening session needing to make up 53 points, as Georgia held a 379-326 advantage. The Tigers closed the gap through the first two events before tying the meet after the 100 freestyle and took the lead for good after the 200 breatstroke. AU took a 22 point lead after the 200 breast before Georgia narrowed the gap to five points before the evening's final event.
"The effort that went into this entire year by this team and the trust by the coaches that went into this was unbelievable," said co-women's head coach Dorsey Tierney-Walker. "It's satisfying to get to the end of the season and for the team to feel the reward. They earned it and they earned it the hard way."
Earning Auburn's first ever 1650 free title, junior Hayley Peirsol battled with Southern Methodist's Flavia Rigamonti for the first 1000 yards of the 66-lap event, but took control at that point and never looked back, taking the title in 15:49.48. Her time broke current AU junior Adrienne Binder's school and pool record (15:51.70), as well as, the Auburn record, also held by Binder.
"I'm really excited to win an NCAA title, it's awesome," said Peirsol. "I feel like I could have gone a little faster, but that is still my personal best, so obviously I'm happy about it. From the beginning I knew I just had to stick my head down and go."
The Tigers took control of the meet after the performances of a trio of Tigers breaststroker's. Freshman Alicia Jensen added her name to the Auburn record book in the 200 breast, breaking the oldest record in the books held since 1998 by Annemieka McReynolds with a time of 2:10.81. Senior Lauren Duerk was seventh in the event with a personal-best time of 2:12.89. Junior Anne Amardeilh was third in the consolation finals in a personal-best time of 2:13.73.
"I always want to go out and represent my team as best I can and I think I got in there and did my best," Jensen said. "I just told myself to keep going. We have a writing on our hands today that says `You Always Have More' and I just kept thinking that. It is just overwhelming. I am so happy I could help the team and score as many points as I could."
Binder did not disappoint in the 1650 free tonight, turning in a championship best time of 15:57.64 to grab third place, her highest finish ever at an NCAA Championship. Freshman Chelsea Haser started the Tigers off right in the first heat of the 1650 freestyle, touching the wall in 16:24.05, more than five second below her personal best and a 13th-place finish.
Breaking a three-year old Auburn record, sophomore Emily Kukors blasted out to a 48.52 finish in the 100 freestyle to touch the wall in fourth. It was her best finish in the 100 free at the championships after finishing 11th a year ago. Classmate Kara Denby took eighth with a championship final's best time of 49.13.
Adding 39 points to Auburn's team total were five 200 backstroke competitors. Swimming in the championship final, NCAA Champion Rachel Goh took fifth with a time just off her personal best set during the morning prelim, 1:55.74. Senior Jeri Moss rounded out the final in seventh, touching the wall in 1:56.11.
The 400 free relay team of Denby, Jana Kolukanova, Moss and Kukors stepped up on the blocks ready to compete for the title. Three of four relay splits were the fastest of the season as Denby got out to an amazing start with a 49.35 split followed by three splits in the 48 second range.
In 200 back consolation action, freshman Gisela Morales swam a lifetime best time of 1:56.78 to take 10th place. Senior Erin Volcan finished 12th (1:57.35), while newcomer Margo McCawley was 16th (1:59.80). In the 100 free consols, senior Jana Kolukanova clocked a season-best, 48.99, for 12th overall.
Swimming in her first 200 butterfly final at a NCAA Championship, Julie Stupp turned in a career-best 1:58.47 to finish 10th. Kristen Hastrup (1:58.84) was 11th and Tawnie Bethune (1:59.42) finished 13th.
The 2006 Auburn University Women's NCAA Swimming and Diving Champions will be honored at Toomer's Corner on Tuesday, April 4, at 6 p.m. Please join the AU four-time women's swimming and diving team as they celebrate with the traditional rolling of Toomer's Corner. National champion t-shirts will be available for purchase beginning next week.
The 2006 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships will air on March 24 at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN2. More air dates of the championships will follow at a later date.
NCAA Championship Notes (All Three Days)
- The victory was Auburn's fourth NCAA title in the last five years. Auburn has now won in 2002, '03, '04, and now in 2006.
- The three point victory was the second closest NCAA championship ever. - Auburn has finished fifth or better for seven consecutive years. - The title was head coach David Marsh's ninth overall (four women's titles and five men's titles).
- Hayley Peirsol earned Auburn's first-ever 1650 free title in a Gabrielsen pool record time of 15:49.48. She broke teammate Adrienne Binder's Gabrielsen pool record and also the Auburn school mark.
- Alicia Jensen adds her name to the Auburn record book, breaking the oldest standing record in the 200 breast with a time of 2:10.81.
- Emily Kukors broke a three-year old Auburn 100-free record, held previously by Becky Short, 48.52.
- Rachel Goh earned Auburn's first-ever 100 backstroke title in a Gabrielsen pool record time of 52.35. It is the second-fastest swim ever at Auburn and just .03 from an Auburn record.
- Corey Gerlach shattered her Auburn record on 3-meter by more than 21 points to grab third place. Auburn history was written as she became the first freshman diver to final at the championships.
- An Auburn female has finished either first or second in the 400 IM during the past six years (including this year as Julie Stupp was runner up). Julie Stupp's time of 4:09.22 was the third strongest swim in the 400 IM ever by an AU female.
- Emily Kukors turned in the third fastest time ever by an Auburn female in the 200 free - 1:44.66 - as the time was just .18 off the Auburn record held by Kirsty Coventry.
- Auburn failed to have a qualifier in the 100 breast championship or consolation final. Alicia Jensen was the first alternate in the 17th position. This is the second year in a row that Auburn has missed sending at least one person to every swimming final (last year it was the 200 breast as Lauren Duerk was the top finisher in prelims in 18th, two spots out of the consols).
- 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 - in the 400 medley relay.
Women's NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships Day 3 Finals - Winner and Auburn Finishes
1. Hayley Peirsol - 15:49.48 (pool record)
3. Adrienne Binder - 15:57.64
13. Chelsea Haser - 16:24.05
400 Free Relay
1. Arizona (Courtney Cashion, Jenna Gresdal, Whitney Myers, Lacey Nymeyer) - 3:12.77(NCAA record)
3. Kara Denby (49.35), Jana Kolukanova (48.37), Jeri Moss (48.67), Emily Kukors (48.61) - 3:15.00
Anne Amardeilh - 200 Breast HM, 400 IM HM
Tawnie Bethune - 100 Fly, 200 Fly HM, 400 MR
Adrienne Binder - 500 Free, 1650 Free, 400 IM, 800 FR
Kara Denby - 50 Free, 100 Free, 200 FR, 400 FR, 200 MR
Lauren Duerk - 200 Breast, 200 IM HM, 400 IM, 400 MR
Corey Gerlach - 3-meter diving
Rachel Goh - 100 back, 200 back, 200 MR, 400 MR
Chelsea Haser - 500 Free, 1650 Free HM
Kristen Hastrup - 200 Fly HM
Alicia Jensen -200 Breast
Jana Kolukanova - 50 Free HM, 100 Free HM, 200 FR, 400 FR, 800 FR, 200 MR, 400 MR
Emily Kukors - 100 Free, 200 Free, 200 IM, 200 FR, 400 FR, 800 FR
Margo McCawley - 200 back HM, 200 MR
Gisela Morales - 200 back HM
Jeri Moss - 100 back HM, 200 back, 200 FR, 400 FR, 800 FR
Hayley Peirsol - 500 Free, 1650 Free
Julie Stupp - 200 Fly HM, 200 IM, 400 IM
Erin Volcan - 200 back HM