March 19, 2008
NCAA Championships Meet Notes [PDF]
NCAA Championships Meet Central
NCAA Championships Women's Official Psyche Sheet [PDF]
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Auburn women's swimming team begins its NCAA title defense when the 2008 NCAA Championships get underway Thursday in Columbus, Ohio. The three-day meet will begin with preliminaries each day at 11 a.m. ET, followed by finals at 7 p.m. ET.
Auburn is in search of its sixth NCAA title in the last seven years and its third in a row. 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, 2006 at Georgia and 2007 at Minnesota. Should Auburn win, AU would join just two other schools that have posted at least six national championships, joining Stanford (8) and Texas (7).
"I feel good about the meet, the team has been very focused in the past couple weeks," said co-head coach Dorsey Tierney-Walker. "Everyone is healthy, we are moving forward, we're real positive and we're ready to get the meet started."
Auburn enters the meet ranked No. 5 in the nation, coming in behind top-ranked Georgia and Stanford, No. 3 Florida and No. 4 Arizona. The Tigers were picked to finish second in the meet by Swimming World Magazine in its NCAA Championships preview.
Seventeen Auburn swimmers qualified for the meet, giving the Tigers the second-most swimmers on the psyche sheet. Arizona was first with 18, followed by Georgia with 16 swimmers. UGA was the only of the top three teams to qualify a diver, giving the Bulldogs 17 total athletes.
The Tigers are coming off their fifth SEC Championship title last month in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Auburn trailed Florida during the first two days of the four-day meet, but pulled ahead in the third day to take a lead it would not give up en route to the title.
Tierney-Walker believes the win at SECs was a good stepping-stone and learning experience for the team as they attempt to win their third consecutive NCAA title this week.
"What was important from our performance at SECs was the way we won," said Tierney-Walker. "The entire team stepped up and won it on the third and fourth days in the prelims and that is what you have to do at the NCAA Championships. It was a great win for us, but how we won is what I think gave the team confidence."
She also thinks the meet was a good experience for the freshman class in showing them how to win a big team competition. She also credits the leadership of the senior class as going a long way in preparing the Tigers for the meet.
"It was a great experience for our freshmen. I would not say our freshmen were our top performers at the meet, but they have gotten so much better since then and learned from the experience," said Tierney-Walker. "I think our senior class has also done a good job of leading them to that point. Again, the victory was great, but it was more how we did it that will give us the confidence and experience to do better this week."
Leading the Tigers into the meet is the senior class of Emily Kukors (19 All-America honors), Kara Denby (17), Kristen Hastrup (3) and sophomore Ava Ohlgren, the returning NCAA champion in the 400 IM.
Last year at the NCAA Championships, Auburn entered the final day of the meet in second place, 32 points behind Arizona. The Tigers scored 192 points in the final session to take a 58-point lead over the Wildcats to win the title.
Auburn secured a program-best 63 All-American honors from the 2004 Championships and was second all-time last season with 57 honors from 19 athletes. Of the 19 that earned All-America honors last season, 10 return to the team this season. The Tigers have had at least 45 All-American honors every year since 2002.
The meet is also the first NCAA Championship meet as Auburn's head coach for Richard since he left The Plains in 1982. It will also be his first NCAA Championship meet since leaving Stanford in 2005. Quick is tied for the record of NCAA Championships won with former head coach David Marsh as they have 12 each. A win this week would give Quick the record on his own once again.
Entering his fist NCAA Championship meet with the team in more than 20 years, Quick is confident in the team's condition and training to this point.
"I'm 100 percent confident that they are going to compete very well and they are going to swim better than they have all season long," said Quick. "Hopefully, that is good enough to give us a chance to win the meet."
The meet runs Thursday through Saturday with preliminary sessions beginning each day at 11 a.m. ET and finals sessions beginning at 7 p.m. ET at the Bill and Mae McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion on the campus of Ohio State University.
Live results are available at www.ncaaswim.com/women08/ and a video Webcast will be available at www.ncaa.com/swimming-womens. Full meet information is also available at www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com.