Oct. 5, 2007
AUBURN - The defending national champion Auburn swimming and diving team unofficially kicked off its season Friday with an intrasquad meet at the James E. Martin Aquatic Center.
Separated into Orange and Blue teams, the two Tiger squads stayed close throughout the meet, but it was the Orange team coming out on top, 267-239.
Head coach Richard Quick, in his first year at the helm of the Auburn program since 1982, took some positives out of Friday's meet but also pointed out that the teams have a lot of work to do before March.
"There were a few encouraging things, but mostly a meet like this points out how far we have to go to be a competitive team at the NCAA Championships," said Quick. "It shows how much we have to learn and how much we have to do to get in better shape."
The team's senior captains divided and headed up their respective teams. Senior Kristen Hastrup, one of the captains of the victorious Orange Team, was pleased with her team's success in the meet.
"It is just really exciting; there is no tougher competition than the Auburn swim team itself," said Hastrup. "But, when push comes to shove, we're all still one team here."
David Maras, one of the other captains on the Orange Team, echoed her sentiments and pointed out that meets such as these help to prepare the Tigers for the upcoming season.
"We're trying to be as competitive as possible and push each other," said Maras. "It's about getting ready for bigger teams, bigger things."
Both seniors pointed out the immediate impact of the freshman class. Altogether, freshman accounted for 10 victories and swam as part of two winning relay teams in the 32-event meet.
The meet was also set up in a different style with the swimmers competing at 300 meters in certain events, a move that Quick said was to give the meet a unique feel.
"We just didn't want to get too specific in the meet, just have them race a bit," said Quick. "We wanted to have it be a little bit longer, as with the 300, being 100 meters longer and just find a way to take off a little of the pressure."
Junior Cesar Cielo and sophomore Ava Ohlgren led the Orange Team to victory. Cielo won two individual events while swimming on a winning relay team as Ohlgren won three individual races.
Junior Alexei Puninski and freshman Micah Martindale finished on top for the Blue Team. Both swam on winning relay teams with Martindale winning two individual races as Puninski won one.
The Tigers officially open the 2007 season with the War Eagle Invitational, Oct. 19-21 at the James E. Martin Aquatic Center.