March 23, 2006
Atlanta, Ga. - Auburn relays were the story of day one at the 2006 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships as the Tiger 200 free relay crown returns to Auburn after a one-year break. The 400 medley relay closed out Thursday night with an exciting runner-up finish as 11 men walked away All-American's in Atlanta, Ga. Auburn leads after six events, 178.5, over Arizona (136.5) and Stanford (132).
"We hoped today would be a strong day for us," Auburn head coach David Marsh said. "The day went well for us but it was not perfect. This morning I thought we might have a few more consolation finalists but tonight people stepped up for us."
The Tigers started out with a bang on Thursday night, taking the 200 free relay, an event, according to the official psyche sheet, the group was ranked third coming into the championships. The four-man team of Cesar Cielo (19.51), Matt Targett (18.67), Bryan Lundquist (19.25) and George Bovell (18.72) put together a winning time of 1:16.15, just .15 off the Auburn record, to clinch the victory over Arizona by .39. Targett and Bovell both clocked sub-19 splits, Targett the best at 18.67, to help lead the Tigers to its fifth overall title in the event; the last one coming in 2004 (Bovell was on that winning relay team).
"This has been the focus all season," Targett said. "I was happy to come out tonight after my performance this morning and help Auburn to a victory. I had been taking care of myself after I finished the Commonwealth Games last week and it felt good to go out there and compete with my teammates. I just made sure I was as good as I could be today and I was pretty close tonight It just felt amazing out there and I am ready to swim fast during the rest of the meet."
Less than 24 hours ago, Targett made the 17-hour trek back to the United States from his native Melbourne, Australia, after competing at the Commonwealth Games last weekend.
"It has been way too long since we have won a relay," Marsh said. "It was nice to see us get back on the top of the podium in a relay and it was thrilling for the team. It creates a lot of momentum and excitement for the rest of our team."
It was an impressive ending to day one of the NCAA Championships, as the AU 400 medley squad of Doug Van Wie (46.48), James Wike (53.09), Alexei Puninski (45.73) and Cielo (42.13) sprinted through the field to grab second place with a season best time of 3:07.43. According to the official psyche sheet, AU was fifth entering the meet. It took all four legs going season best splits to ward off Stanford and Northwestern, but the Tigers were able to accomplish this as Cielo anchored with a 42.13 100 free split.
"At Auburn we take a lot of pride in our relays," Van Wie said. "So it's important for us to make a good impression to the rest of the team, it kind of embodies our team spirit, so we always want to do great on our relays."
With his second fastest 200 IM time at the championships, senior Eric Shanteau turned in a season best 1:44.24 to grab third place. His time was a mere .04 from the runner-up spot (Adam Ritter of Arizona). Touching the pads just behind Shanteau was Wike, who bettered his personal best by .56 to claim fourth (1:44.37). Florida's Ryan Lochte put on a show in the 200 IM by breaking his own NCAA record and Michael Phelps American and US Open record - 1:40.55 - for the win.
In diving action, junior Steve Segerlin put together back-to-back top notch six-dive lists to keep his third place spot from the prelims session with a finals score of 382.80. Just one year ago, Segerlin was fourth on 1-meter and improves one spot tonight.
"Steve put together two really solid lists," Auburn diving coach Jeff Shaffer said. "He moved up a place from last year. His front 2.5, full twist in the third round of the finals tonight really set him up to be in contention if anyone made a mistake. The other two guys just did not make a mistake. This is a great start to the meet for Steve and I am proud of him."
On the third dive in the final round, Segerlin earned a 67.20, a higher mark than his two main competitors, and put himself in the mix for the national title. He came out strong on the fourth dive and received his best marks of the evening - 72.00. Georgia's Chris Colwill and Arizona State's Joona Puhakka put together strong final dives to remain in first and second, respectively.
"Steve holding on to the third spot in diving is a hard thing to do," Marsh noted. "Steve gets better as the boards get higher so we have a lot to look forward to from him over the next two days."
In the 50 freestyle, the Tigers accumulated a two final total of 48.5 points, led by Bovell who tied for fourth with a time of 19.34. Cielo, who had the fastest qualifier going into the final (19.20), was not able to match his performance from earlier in the day, but swam an impressive 19.37 for sixth. Puninski touched the wall in 19.65 to grab eighth place. In consolation action, Scott Goodrich darted to the wall and touched first in a career best 19.51; he ended up ninth overall. Teammate Lundquist was clocked at 19.91 for 16th.
"Scott Goodrich to me was probably our best swim of the night," Marsh said. "Moving up is what it is all about at night and he accomplished that."
Turning in his best individual event finish in his career at a NCAA Championship, senior Kurt Cady swam a lifetime best time of 1:46.16 to finish fourth in the consolation finals and 12th overall. Teammate Van Wie, swimming half a second off his prelim time, 1:46.21, took 13th.
Friday's prelims begin at 12 p.m. ET. Live stats from all rounds of competition can be found on the Georgia Tech athletic web site at www.ramblinwreck.com.
Thursday Final Notes
- The 200 free relay win was Auburn's fifth ever. The last 200 free relay Auburn won was in 2004 and current senior George Bovell was on that relay.
- All four legs of the 400 medley relay turned in season best splits.
Thursday Prelim Notes
- Andkjaer, Lundquist and Bovell swam season high splits on the 200 free relay.
- Cesar Cielo set a new Georgia Tech Aquatics Center record in the 50 free (19.20), which was also the third-fastest 50 free ever at Auburn.
- All five men in the finals of the 50 free swam lifetime best times (Cesar Cielo, George Bovell, Alexei Puninski, Scott Goodrich and Bryan Lundquist).
George Bovell - 50 Free, 200 FR
Kurt Cady - 200 IM HM
Cesar Cielo - 50 Free, 200 FR, 400 MR
Scott Goodrich - 50 Free HM
Bryan Lundquist - 50 Free HM, 200 FR
Alexei Puninski - 50 Free, 400 MR
Steve Segerlin - 1-meter
Eric Shanteau - 200 IM
Matt Targett - 200 FR
Doug Van Wie - 200 IM HM, 400 MR
James Wike - 200 IM, 400 MR
Men's NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships Day 1 Finals - Winner and Auburn Results
200 Free Relay
1. Cesar Cielo (19.51), Matt Targett (18.67), Bryan Lundquist (19.25), George Bovell (18.72) - 1:16.15 (pool record)
1. Peter Vanderkaay (Michigan) - 4:08.60 (pool record)
1. Chris Colwill (Georgia) - 407.10
3. Steve Segerlin - 382.80
400 Medley Relay
1. Arizona (Nick Thoman, Ivan Barns, Albert Subirats, Adam Ritter) - 3:06.08 (pool record)
2. Doug Van Wie (46.48), James Wike (53.09), Alexei Puninski (45.73), Cesar Cielo (42.13) - 3:07.43
1. Auburn - 178.5
2. Arizona - 136.5
3. Stanford - 132
4. Florida - 97
5. Texas - 82