Swimmers Have Chance To Make NCAA History

Auburn, Ala.--The second-ranked Auburn Tigers will try to answer the challenge put forward by the women's team last weekend when they travel to Austin, Tex. hoping for their third national swimming and diving championship in the last six years.

After dominating the SEC Championships in February, defeating second-place Florida by one of the biggest margins in the history of the event, the Tigers will have to bring the meet to top-ranked Stanford if they hope to come home with the title.

Ranked in the Top 5 all season, the Tigers were undefeated in dual-meets (6-0) and haven't lost a dual-meet since January 20, 2001, a string of 14-straight victories. Coach David Marsh has built a powerhouse in Auburn since coming back to his alma mater as head coach in 1991. In an almost unbelievable feat, the Tigers have finished in the top three nationally in seven of the last eight years and this time around should be no different with scores of qualifiers ready to swim this weekend at the Jamail Texas Swimming Center.

Auburn's strongest events should be in the freestyle as seven Tiger swimmers qualified for the NCAAs in the 100 free while five more will make a run in the 50 free. The top qualifier in both is Fred Bousquet, a mid-year addition to the team who wasted little time in making a name for himself at the SEC Championships by winning both events on the way to being the top scorer at the meet.

The 100 breaststroke is also a strong event for the Tigers with three of the top eight times in the country this season led by 2000 Olympian and three-time All-American Pat Calhoun. Also challenging for medal honors in the event should be Mark Gangloff and Justin Caron. In the 200 Caron has the top time in the NCAA this season while Gangloff has the 16th fastest time.

Captain Justin Caron

If the freestyle and breaststroke are strong events, the relays are where Auburn really has a chance to score a lot of points. The Tiger relays are ranked in the top four in the country in all five events that will take place this weekend. Auburn has the top time in the 200 freestyle relay (1:17.73) and second in the 400 free, 800 free, and 400 medley relays. Auburn is number four in the 200 medley relay.

Unlike past years, Auburn doesn't have anyone on this year's roster that is a NCAA Champion, something that could play a big role in this year's championships. Instead Marsh will count on overall depth and consistency to get the Tigers over the top. One thing the Tigers have this season that they've done without in most seasons is a serious diving threat in Cesar Garcia. The junior has been awesome of late, setting Auburn records in the last three meets he's competed in. He broke a 16-year old record against Alabama earlier this year when he won the three-meter event with a score of 382.58. Garcia wasn't done as he claimed the SEC Championship on the platform with a score of 672.50. The total was the second-highest in Auburn history on the event.

With 28 different qualifying times from 15 individuals, along with five relays, the Tigers stand a very good chance of coming home with the hardware from Texas. If they can get off to a good start, it may allow them to ride the emotion and confidence all the way back to Auburn where a trip to Toomer's Corner is waiting. The event gets underway Thursday and will last through Saturday night.

If Auburn can do it, the Tigers will make NCAA history as the first school to win the men's and women's swimming national titles in the same season.

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