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March 7, 2007
AUBURN, Ala. -
The Auburn women's swimming and diving team begins its NCAA title defense when the 2007 NCAA Championships get underway Thursday in Minneapolis. The three-day meet will begin with prelims each day at noon, followed by finals at 7 p.m.
Auburn is in search of its fifth NCAA title in the last six years. The Tigers won their first NCAA Championship in 2002 at Texas and followed that up with wins in 2003 at Auburn, 2004 at Texas A&M and 2006 at Georgia. Should Auburn win, AU would join just two other schools that have posted at least five national championships, joining Stanford (8) and Texas (7).
Auburn enters the meet ranked No. 3 nationally behind top-ranked Stanford and California, but the Tigers are the only team that had 20 swimmers and divers qualify for the meet. Arizona has 19 qualifiers, followed by Stanford with 18 and Cal with 15.
Last year Auburn defeated runner-up Georgia in Athens by just three points. Over the past seven seasons, the Tigers have finished in the top five at the NCAAs every year.
This year's squad boasts two individual national champions as Rachel Goh won the 100 back and Hayley Peirsol won the 1650 free at least year's NCAA meet. Of the 518.5 points scored by Auburn last year, individuals accounting for 382 points (73.7 percent) are back this season. Fifteen individuals who have combined for 68 All-American honors during their careers return, led by Emily Kukors (12 All-American honors), Kara Denby (11) and Adrienne Binder (10).
Auburn secured a program-best 63 All-America honors at the 2004 championships and was third all-time last season with 54 honors from 18 athletes. Of those 54 All-American honors, 37 are on this season's NCAA team. Auburn has had at least 45 All-America honors every year since the 2002 meet.
It will be the final women's meet for Auburn head coach David Marsh, who is stepping down following this season after 17 years on the Plains. Marsh has recorded a 112-18 (.862) dual meet record with the Auburn women including four SEC crowns to go with the four national championships.
Live results and complete information on the event can be found by visiting the University of Minnesota's athletics website at www.gophersports.com.