Alabama Diver Wins SEC Championship

When it comes to diving, the Alabama Swimming and Diving team has one of the proudest traditions in the nation and on the first night of the Southeastern Conference Championships, being held here in the Alabama Aquatic Center this week, Aaron Fleshner added to that championship legacy.

"I feel amazing, completely exhilarated," Alabama's Aaron Fleshner said. "It boosts my confidence a lot knowing that I won. I just think it brings happiness to everyone all over. It feels great to win in front of a home crowd. It's just crazy, crazy."

The Crimson Tide sophomore won the three-meter board, the first men's crown of the 2008 championships, with 429.40 points. Fleshner was the top seed coming into the meet, the top seed going into finals and at the end of evening the league's top diver.

"Aaron is a competitor," Alabama Coach Eric McIlquaham said. "He went out there and took care of business today, leading it pretty much wire-to-wire. To get a win in the meet's first event gives us a boost going forward."

It was Alabama's 22nd SEC diving title on the men's side, but the first since Brent Roberts won the 1 and 3-meter boards in 1997.

"It's been a long time since I have had a winner in that event," diving coach Pat Greenwell said. "It is a proud moment for a sophomore to bring this out with many good years to go. I am really proud of him. He has been through a lot of adversity these past three weeks, for him to handle all that and to come out a winner on this day, that is awesome."

Fleshner's win helped push Alabama into fourth place as a team with 78 points. The Tide women are in eighth with 63 points. Florida leads the women's meet with 89 points while Auburn is first on the men's side with 126 points.

Freshmen Chris Hearn and Adam Booher also scored off the three-meter board, taking 12th and 14th place respectively. Hearn scored 312.65 points while Booher tallied 311.60.

Freshmen Denes Zubcsek and Catalin Cosma along with sophomores Alin Mihalca and Sam Morgan posted a time of 6:30.92 to take sixth in the 800 freestyle relay. Junior Chris Perry, sophomore Luke Boutwell, sophomore Clint McClendon and senior Mike Jones finished seventh in the 200 medley relay with a 1:29.58.

Freshman Lauren Dunn led the women with a seventh place finish off the 1-meter board with 272.80 points. Fellow rookie Baylee Ellson also scored, taking 14th with 255.20 points.

The 800 freestyle relay of freshman Kate Gray, sophomore Agustina de Giovanni, junior Vanessa Von der Heyde and sophomore Nicki Roberts combined to take seventh place with a time of 7:21.02. The Tide's 200 medley relay of sophomore Allyson Angle, de Giovanni, freshman Ida Persson and senior Erin Sparks also took seventh place after touching the wall at 1:40.70.

Competition resumes Thursday morning at 10 a.m. and continues through Saturday.

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