Swim Tigers Open Up Commanding Day Two Lead

Depth once again ruled the day for Tigers as they jumped out to a huge lead after the second day of competition at the 2003 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships.

Austin, Tex.--As the Tigers walked out of the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center on Thursday night with an 85-point lead, things looked good for the Tigers to claim their fourth national title. After Friday's session, the Tigers had increased that lead to a seemingly insurmountable 167-point lead over second-place Texas. The Tigers have accumulated 449 points while Texas has 282.

"You want to go to the biggest meet and go best times, and that is what has happened so far," AU Head Coach David Marsh said. "When you are swimming that well with quality depth, you can compete for championships."

The night got started with Auburn breaking the school's oldest relay record on the books, the 200-yard medley relay. The Tiger squad of Bryce Hunt, Pat Calhoun, Fred Bousquet and Derek Gibb raced to a second-place finish in a time of 1:24.96, breaking the old mark by .79 seconds, bringing home 34 points for the first-place Tigers.

"We knew the points would be there," Hunt said. "David (Marsh) told us to have fun and race well, and I thought we did a solid job."

Swimming with three individuals in the championship finals of the 400-yard individual medley, the Tigers racked up another large set of team points. Jeremy Knowles was the leader of the Tiger attack, placing fifth with a time of 3:46.07 while James Galloway, who had placed 14th in the event last season and was swimming in his final race for the Tigers, was right behind him in sixth in a time of 3:46.83. Eric Shanteau rounded out the AU scoring, placing eighth (3:49.07). The 38 points increased the Tigers lead to 114 points over second-place Stanford, 278-164 for the time being.

Auburn kept on pouring on the points as the Tigers took to the blocks for the 100-yard butterfly. Fred Bousquet was the first to the wall for Auburn with a time of 46.75 to place seventh while teammate Andy Haidinyak was eighth with a time of 46.82. Hunt swam in the consolation finals and garnered a 15th-place finish in a time of 47.46. The three swimmers amassed 25 points to up their point total to 303 points and held the Auburn lead over then-second-place Stanford at 114 points.

The 200-yard freestyle added another chunk of points to Auburn's ever-growing total as Clay Kirkland raced to a sixth-place finish with a time of 1:35.29, a personal-best time. George Bovell was the top finisher in the consolation finals, clocking a 1:35.29, also a personal best, while BJ Jones checked in at 1:36.55 to place 13th. The three finishes added 26 points to the AU lead and moved the Tigers lead up to 124 points over second-place Texas, which moved into second after the event, 329-205.

In what turned out to be the 'Auburn' final in the 100-yard breaststroke, Calhoun finished as the runner-up for the second consecutive year, touching in a time of 53.03. Two spots behind him were classmate Justin Caron, whose fourth-place finish was the best of his career, and Will Brandt, both with a time of 53.32. Mark Gangloff rounded out the Auburn scoring, placing seventh in a time of 53.58. The four Tigers brought 58 points back to the Tiger bench with them, upping their commanding lead to 162 points over second-place Texas.

"I am definitely more concerned with the team title than any individual title by far," Calhoun said. "I consider that my best race and I wanted to go faster, but I got points that we needed and the rest of the breaststrokers did too. This was a huge event for Auburn as far as the team standings go."

The 100-yard backstroke featured the fewest Tigers any field for the night as Auburn sent just two athletes to the bulkhead for the race. Hunt was the top finisher for AU, placing eighth with a time of 47.35. Derek Gibb placed 10th with a time of 47.92. As it stood after the event, Auburn held a 155-point lead over Stanford, who jumped back ahead of Texas into second with 250 points.

"We all knew that depth would be a key to this meet," Hunt said. "We have done an excellent job the last two days of not necessarily winning, but using our depth to our advantage."

In the men's 3-meter diving finals, Caesar Garcia scored a personal-best 613.20 to place fifth, padding the Auburn lead to 169 points. The score was one point shy of Jose Rocha's school record set in 1987.

The night closed out with the Tigers placing fourth in the 800-yard freestyle relay as the quartet of Bovell, Kidd, Kirkland and Jones clocked a school-record 6:22.16. Bovell's led off the race with a time of 1:34.14, the second fastest time in a 200-yard freestyle in school history.

The championships continue on Saturday with prelims starting at 11 a.m. CT. All the results can be found live on the internet at www.TexasSports.com.

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