AUBURN MEN'S SWIMMING AND DIVING CLAIM EIGHTH SEC CHAMPIONSHIP; WOMEN FINISH THIRD -- Feb. 23, 2002
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- The Auburn's men's swimming and diving team captured it's sixth straight Southeastern Conference Championship title and eighth in nine years here Saturday night as the Tigers scored 763 points in the six day meet to defend their title.
The Auburn men survived a threat from Florida (744) to claim the men's title and Georgia finished third with 522.5 points in the meet. Florida's women's title is the first since 1996. The Georgia Bulldogs have earned the honor since that season and finished second in 2002 with a score of 742.5 to Georgia's 719 and Auburn's 693.5.
Kevin Clements and Kirsty Coventry each finished second in point totals for the week with Coventry tallying 53 points with a first, second and third place finishes and Clements earning 57 points with two first place finishes and a second.
Auburn set eight school records during the course of the meet as well as two SEC records from Maggie Bowen (200 individual medley) and Demerae Christianson (100 butterfly). The Auburn women and men had a productive meet heading into the NCAA Championships as they have already placed 10 women and 11 men on the NCAA Championship squad earning qualifying times at the meet.
''On the men's side, Florida brought its' best,'' head coach David Marsh said. ''They were very impressive and were the best I thought they could be. I am proud of our men and their response to the challenge. Our strength was, and always has been, our depth. That is what it takes.''
''As a coach, I am thrilled by our performance,'' associate head women's coach Kim Brackin said. ''But if I look at it as just a person, I am sad with not walking away with the title. All year we have focused on our goals and we've taken an enormous step and actually performed better than I thought we would.
''So I am optimistic heading into the NCAA meet. The format of NCAAs is better for us and we will take the next three weeks to prepare. I am excited with our possibilities.''
The Auburn women began the finals competition with a fourth place finish from Magda Dyszkiewicz in a time of 16:32.16 and Heather Kemp taking eighth place in 16:42.23.
On the men's side, junior Kevin Clements just missed sweeping his three individual events as he finished second in the 1650 freestyle with a time of 15:05.23, James Galloway took fifth for the Tigers with a time of 15:22.30 and BJ Jones took eighth in the event with a time of 15:29.83.
''Kevin's leadership really made a difference in this meet,'' Marsh said. ''Mark's (Gangloff) top three finishes and Ryan Wochomurka's relays and individual events were really strong for us. And thank goodness for our breaststroke. That really gave us confidence.''
Freshman Margaret Hoelzer moved up from her third place finish in the 100 back to take the SEC title in the 200 back with a school record time of 1:55.35 and Kirsty Coventry -- who won the 100 back title on Friday -- finished second for the Tigers with a time of 1:55.39. Taylor Spivey pulled out a big consolation final win in the 200 back with a ninth place finish overall (2:01.38) and Jenni Anderson took 12th for Auburn in 2:03.35.
''This is exciting,'' Hoelzer said. ''It is fun to be an SEC Champion. I'll use this as motivation for future races.''
In the men's 200 back, the Tigers placed three in the championship finals with Bryce Hunt taking third (1:43.66), Kirk Hampleman finishing fifth in 1:43.84 and Jon Karr taking seventh in a time of 1:46.09.
Sophomore Eileen Coparropa swam to a third place finish in the 100 free with a time of 48.91, which ties her school-record time that she set last season at the SEC Championships. Becky Short finished seventh in the championship finals with a time of 50.01 while Cassidy Maxwell swam to a 10th place finish in a time of 50.37.
On the men's side, freshmen Ryan Wochomurka and Matt Kidd each placed in the 100 free with Wochomurka taking third in a time of 43.73 and Kidd placing fifth in a time of 44.07 for the Tigers. In the consolation finals, freshman Clay Kirkland finished 10th overall (44.69) and Derek Gibb took 12th with a time of 45.03.
Auburn scored three women in the finals of the 200 breaststroke with Laura Swander leading the way in third with a time of 2:14.37, Kelly Jones took eighth in 2:18.41 and Abby Hochella had an impressive swim with a 12th place finish and a personal-best time of 2:19.81.
The Auburn men earned two medals in the 200 breast as Justin Caron captured second (1:57.73) and Mark Gangloff took third for Auburn in a time of 1:57.84. The other two Tigers in the championship finals were Will Brandt in sixth with a time of 1:59.48 and Pat Calhoun taking seventh in a time of 2:00.68.
Demerae Christianson, who won the 100 fly Friday night, finished third in the 200 fly with a time of 1:58.22 while Hoelzer took fourth (1:59.88), Maggie Bowen finished 11th (2:01.00) and Lawless finished 14th in a time of 2:02.58.
Senior Christian Cantwell took seventh in the 200 fly with a time of 1:47.67 and Andy Haidinyak swam to a 10th place finish overall in a time of 1:47.57.
In the 400 freestyle relay for the women, the Auburn team of Short, Maxwell, Coventry and Coparropa took second with a time of 3:18.31. On the men's side, Auburn's relay team was disqualified for leaving too early.
''The table was really set for us with the diving and gave us a lead over Florida heading in,'' Marsh said. ''I think the guys really responded to the challenge and they didn't give any excuses. They are very proud to win and continue the history of Auburn swimming and diving.
''I am thrilled for the women. They have really set the tone for our program with this meet. If they had more depth, the would have won, but this was a really great competition and I am sure they are eager to compete for the title at NCAAs and they should be excited for a reason.''
The HPER Natatorium that the week's events were held in was built during James E. Martin's tenure as the president of the University of Arkansas in 1983. Auburn's aquatic center is named after Martin, who was president of Auburn University and made key contributions to Auburn's center, which was built in 1994.
The Tigers will continue their season as they travel to the NCAA Championships in March. The women will travel to Texas for the March 21-23 Championships while the men will head to Georgia for the men's Championships to be held March 28-30.
Last Modified February 23, 2002
Auburn Media Relations