Ava Ohlgren celebrates after winning the 200 IM at the NCAA Championships Thursday night.
March 20, 2008
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Auburn women's swimming and diving team finds itself in a familiar place after day one of the 2008 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, sitting in second place with 132 points - 19 behind first-place Arizona (151). The Tigers have finished the first day in second place for the past four years, sitting three points behind Arizona in 2007, 10 points behind Arizona in 2006 and 74 points behind Georgia in 2005.
The meet is taking place at the Bill and Mae McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion on the campus of Ohio State University.
"I thought we did a great job tonight, getting out there and scoring some points," said co-head coach Dorsey Tierney-Walker. "It was a good session, but this is a meet made up of sessions and you basically start over every day, so we have to come back ready tomorrow."
Co-head coach Richard Quick was also pleased with how the team improved from the morning session.
"I thought we swam real tough," said Quick. "We probably maxed out what we could do in the relays and we swam faster than we are seeded. But, this meet is going to be a battle and we have to wake up ready to swim tomorrow."
Leading Auburn after the first day is sophomore Ava Ohlgren as she earned the team's first individual championship of 2008, taking the 200 IM title with a pool record time of 1:53.94, finishing just three-hundredths of a second off the NCAA and Auburn record of 1:53.91, held by Maggie Bowen.
"It felt great, really smooth and it was just awesome," said Ohlgren. "I'm so excited. I missed the record by .03, but, oh well, I'll get it next year."
Ohlgren's title in the 200 IM is Auburn's fifth all-time in the event and the first since Kirsty Coventry won it in 2005.
Finishing behind Ohlgren in third place was senior Emily Kukors with a time of 1:55.28 - coming in just two hundredths of a second behind her sister, Ariana, who is a freshman at Washington.
Ohlgren and Kukors also swam together on Auburn's third-place 200 free relay that broke an Auburn record with a time of 1:28.79. The time breaks the record of 1:28.92, held by Becky Short, Maggie Bowen, Cassidy Maxwell and Eileen Coparropa that was set in 2002.
Ohlgren swam the leadoff leg in 22.58, putting Auburn in a tie for sixth after the first 50 yards. Kara Denby then stormed out of the gate for a 21.60 split, the fastest on the team, to put Auburn in second.
Kukors maintained that pace with a 22.35 split, keeping Auburn in the top three, while Emile Ewing swam the anchor in 22.26 to bring the Tigers in third, behind Arizona and California.
Auburn finished just under two seconds behind champion Arizona in the 200 free relay as the Wildcats set a new NCAA record with a time of 1:26.90.
Following Denby's team-leading 50-yard split, she went on to finish seventh in the 50 free with a time of 22.14. The seventh-place finish is her best at NCAAs in her Auburn career and the best finish for AU since Jana Kolukanova finished fifth in 2005.
Also posting a top finish on Thursday was sophomore Maggie Bird as she swam a career-best time of 4:39.51 to finish second in the 500 free, finishing behind Florida's Carolina Burckle as she set a new American record with a time of 4:33.60.
"It was really exciting," said Bird. "I've wanted to break 4:40 for a long time and it felt great to go out and do it."
Bird made a huge jump from preliminaries as she finished eighth in the morning session to take the last spot in the finals. She them jumped all the way from eighth to second in the finals. As for what was different between her finals time and her 4:41.95 in preliminaries, Bird said it was all a change in strategy.
"I went out a little soft this morning in the preliminary," said Bird. "Dorsey and I talked about it this afternoon and decided go to out a little stronger in the final and that's what I did."
Bird's time in the event is the second-fastest ever at Auburn, coming in behind Adrienne Binder's 4:36.96. Binder set the mark last year as she won the 500 free at NCAAs.
"Maggie Bird getting second in the 500 free in lane eight was big for us," said Tierney-Walker. "It is funny because last year, Maggie's 500 free pretty much inspired the entire team and she did the same thing tonight."
Junior Chelsea Haser swam in the 500 free consolation finals, coming in 16th with a time of 4:44.22.
Auburn capped off the opening night by finishing second in the 400 medley relay, as the team of Margo McCawley, Denby, Ohlgren and Kukors swam Auburn's fastest time of the season, clocking a 3:32.84. The Tigers finished behind Arizona as the Wildcats set a new NCAA, American and U.S. Open record with a time of 3:29.06.
Auburn was in fifth after McCawley's 52.94 leg in the backstroke and stayed in fifth after Denby's 1:00.00 in the breaststroke. Ohlgren moved the Tigers to second with her 51.68 butterfly leg and Kukors brought Auburn home to the runner-up finish with a 48.22 in the freestyle.
"I was pretty confident that the girls had set me up well for that last leg and it was just my job to go out and finish," said Kukors. "Arizona had a great start on the relay and I had to chase and get my hand on as quick as possible to score as many points for the team as we could."
Competition resumes Friday with the 200 medley relay, 400 IM, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke, 3-meter diving and the 800 free relay. Preliminaries begin at 10 a.m. CT with finals starting at 6 p.m. CT at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion.
Fans can watch live at www.ncaa.com/swimming-womens/ with live results at www.ncaaswim.com/women08/.
2008 NCAA Championships Auburn Day One Prelim Finishes
200-Yard Freestyle Relay
1 - Arizona (Lara Jackson, Lacey Nymeyer, Anna Turner, Taylor Baughman) - 1:26.90
3 - Ohlgren (22.58), Denby (21.60), Kukors (22.35), Ewing (22.26) - 1:28.79
1 - Emma Friesen (Hawaii) - 336.20
1 - Lara Jackson (Arizona) - 21.69
7 - Kara Denby - 22.14
400-Yard Medley Relay
1 - Arizona (Hailey Degolia, Annie Chandler, Ana Agy, Lacey Nymeyer) - 3:29.06
2 - McCawley (52.94), Denby (1:00.00), Ohlgren (51.68), Kukors (48.22) - 3:32.84