March 14, 2007
AUBURN, Ala. -
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The Auburn men's swimming and diving team aims for its fifth consecutive national championship when the 20007 NCAA Championships get underway Thursday in Minneapolis. The three-day meet will begin with prelim sessions each day at noon, followed by finals beginning at 7 p.m.
Auburn will be returning to the same pool where the Tigers won the first of their six national championships in 1997. Auburn, which also won its 2005 national title in Minneapolis, is trying to become just the third school to win five or more consecutive NCAA men's swimming and diving titles, joining Michigan (1937-41) and Indiana (1968-73).
"This should be an extremely fast meet," said head coach David Marsh. "We have to get points in groupings and bunches. We have to strike fast and strike hard. The goal is to have swimmers perform personal best times and fight for top eight finishes to get out of the prelims into the finals, and also to grab as many consolation swims as we can. If we can do that, I think as we add up the points in the six sessions through the three days, we'll have a chance to land in a good competitive situation. We can't control how other teams do, but we're certainly in control of our performances at this event, and I do feel really good about the way the guys look and the way their emotions are right now."
Auburn enters the meet ranked No. 3 nationally, the same ranking the Auburn women had before winning the NCAA crown, behind top-ranked Stanford and No. 2 Texas, but the Tigers led all teams with 16 swimmers listed on the official psyche sheet, and three divers qualified as well. Stanford and Florida both had 15 swimmers qualify, followed by Texas and Minnesota with 13 each. Texas has two divers competing, while Stanford has one and Florida none.
Last year, Auburn defeated runner-up Arizona by 40 points in Athens, Ga. Over the past 12 seasons, the Tigers have finished in the top three at the NCAA meet every year except 2001, when Auburn placed seventh.
The Tigers return the NCAA individual champion in the platform in Steven Segerlin, and three of the members of the winning 200 free relay are back (Cesar Cielo, Matt Targett, Bryan Lundquist). Of the 480.5 points scored by Auburn last year, individuals accounting for 285 points (61.4 percent) are back this season. Twelve individuals who have combined for 41 All-American honors during their careers are back, led by Segerlin (eight All-American honors), Lundquist (five) and Cielo (five).
The 2006 championship team had 51 All-America honors from 16 athletes. Of those 51 honors, 32 are on this season's team. Auburn has had at least 50 All-America honors in each of its championship seasons.
The NCAA meet will be the last at Auburn for Marsh, who is stepping down following this season after 17 years on the Plains. Marsh has recorded a 105-20 (.840) dual meet record with the Auburn men plus six national championships and 13 SEC titles, including the last 11 in a row.
Marsh will be replaced as head men's and women's swimming and diving coach by Richard Quick, a six-time United States Olympic coach who directed 12 teams to NCAA titles. Quick had previously served as head men's and women's coach at Auburn from 1978-82.
Live results and complete information on the meet can be found by visiting the University of Minnesota's athletics website at www.gophersports.com. Fans can watch live coverage of the event each night from 7-10 p.m. on www.espn360.com.
Auburn's 2007 NCAA Championship Participants
Jakob Andkjaer - 50 free, 100 free, 100 fly
Cesar Cielo - 50 free, 100 free, 100 back
Scott Goodrich - 50 free, 100 free, 100 back
Bryan Lundquist - 50 free, 100 free, 100 back
Logan Madson - 200 IM, 100 fly, 200 fly
David Maras - 100 breast, 200 breast
Kelly Marx - 1-meter diving, 3-meter diving, platform diving
Dan Mazzaferro - 1-meter diving, 3-meter diving, platform diving
Tyler McGill - 200 IM, 100 fly, 200 fly
Sean Osborne - 100 breast, 200 breast, 200 IM
Alexei Puninski - 50 free, 100 free, 100 fly
Jon Roberts - 100 breast, 200 breast, 200 IM
Joey Schneider - 200 free, 200 back, 200 IM
John Scott - 100 fly, 200 fly
Steven Segerlin - 1-meter diving, 3-meter diving, platform diving
Daniel Slocki - 200 free, 500 free, 1650 free
Matt Targett - 50 free, 100 free, 100 fly
James Wike - 100 back, 200 back, 200 IM
Pascal Wollach - 500 free, 100 back, 200 back
Relay participants not yet decided.