1997 NCAA Champions Auburn Tigers

Minneapolis, Minnesota will always be a fond memory for head coach David Marsh and his 1997 menís swimming and diving team. It is there that the Tigers won the programís first ever national championship.

With four senior All-Americans, including three Olympians, the 1996-97 team dominated the competition by amassing a record total of 496.5 points.

Ranked number two in the country going into the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, Auburn left no doubt about who was really number one as the Tigers overwhelmed preciously top-ranked Stanford, defending national champion Texas and 54 other teams that had qualified for nationals. The SEC champion Tigers finished a strong 156.5 points ahead of the second-place Cardinal.

"To be honest, I didnít know what to expect," said Marsh. "I really enjoyed watching the guys celebrate and having a good time feeling great about Auburn University, their experience here and seeing it pay off for all of the hard work they put in this year."

In addition to winning the national title, Marsh was named 1997 NCAA Coach of the Year, adding to his accolades of great swimming accomplishments.

The previous year at the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas, the Tigers scored 443.5 points to finish ahead of top-ranked Michiganís 358 total but lost by 35.5 points to Texasí 479. Auburn remembered what it felt like to be so close and not get there and used that to push them over the top.

Stanford came into nationals ranked first ahead of Auburn, Tennessee, Texas, Southern California and Michigan. The field included 12 returning individual champions but none from Auburn, which did have Nick Shackell, Brock Newman, and Scott Tucker, members of the defending champion 400 free relay team.

With the three Olympians, Shackell, Tucker and Hargis and the senior diver Koffi Kla, Auburn rose to the top.

"Nick Shackell, through his attitude, his care and love for the team, and his competitiveness, has been a tremendous leader," said Marsh. "One of the most important moments of this meet was although John Hargis had the fastest 100 butterfly split on the medley relay we won, he had a disappointing 100 butterfly, but minutes later he was leading the cheers. That is what a guy of quality character does. Scott Tucker ended his career on an incredibly positive note. He was key in several of our relays. He has done Auburn very proud. Koffi Kla has been the best team diver I think we have ever had at Auburn. All four of those four will be missed sorely.

Newcomer Brett Hawke made an impression as he swam 19.16 in the 50 free prelims, the fastest ever by an Auburn swimmer. Hawke eventually took the title with a time of 19.19.

Wearing their "Marsh Madness" t-shirts, which featured a photo of their coach in his longer hair that was fashionable in the lates 1970ís as an All-American swimmer at AU, Auburnís 18 competitors at nationals were obviously a close-knit group. Emphasizing the point was the decision to bleach their hair white as a further sign of team unity.

The Tigers won four out of five relays, placed second in the 800 free relay and had 15 individuals earn All-America honors.

After arriving back to Auburn, the Tigers and supporters gathered at Toomerís Corner for a pep rally despite rain and thunder. An official Coronation of Champions ceremony was held featuring a traditional Tiger Walk from the Martin Aquatics Center to the coliseum where the swimmers and coaches received handshakes, high fives and cheers as they enjoyed their moment in the spotlight. The formal ceremony featured a list of speakers and proclamations from the president and the vice president of the United States to the mayor of Auburn.-- By Mark Murphy

 

 

NCAA Individual Champions

50 Freestyle

Brett Hawke

200 Freestyle Relay

Brett Hawke, Matt Busbee, Aaron Ciarla, Nick Shackell

400 Freestyle Relay

Scott Tucker, Brock Newman, Brett Hawke, Nick Shackell

200 Medley Relay -- NCAA and US Open Record

Michael Bartz, Adam Jerger, John Hargis, Brett Hawke

400 Medley Relay

Michael Bartz, Adam Jerger, John Hargis, Brock Newman

National Coach of the Year

David Marsh

How They Finished...The Top 10

  1. AUBURN 496.5
  2. Stanford 340
  3. Georgia 297
  4. Texas 286
  5. Tennessee 235.5
  6. Southern Cal 235
  7. Michigan 209
  8. Miami 197
  9. Florida State 160
  10. SMU 157

CHAMPIONSHIP SUMMARY

Last Modified January 15, 2001
Auburn Media Relations