Auburn Dominates Again; Tigers Are NCAA Champs

David Marsh has coached both the men's and women's swimming teams to national championships in the past 10 days.

Austin, Tex.--The Auburn Tigers capitalized on a great start and led wire to wire as they cruised to their third men's NCAA Swimming and Diving national championship and the fifth overall national championship in Auburn swimming history. That last one came in 1999.

Completing a remarkable week of Auburn swimming that featured national championships for Coach David Marsh's men's and women's teams, Marsh made NCAA history by becoming the first college coach to sweep both titles in the same season. He was also named NCAA Coach of the Year for the men after winning the women's honor a week earlier.

"I don't know if we will ever be able to do this again, but we are going to enjoy what we have accomplished as a program," Marsh told Inside the Auburn Tigers after taking the traditional victory plunge into the pool with his team.

"This has been a special year with special leadership," Marsh adds. "On the men's team, the seniors did a great job. They were very committed to winning this championship. They were not satisfied with winning it. They wanted to dominate and that is what they did."

Auburn won the event with a school-record 609.5 points. Defending champion and host Texas was second with 413. Auburn, which came into the meet ranked second, piled up a huge advantage over Stanford, the No. 1 ranked team that fell to third with 374 points. Cal was fourth with 329 and Southern Cal fifth with 268.

Coach David Marsh

"It is great to win the men's championship and the women's championship in the same year," Marsh says. "Everybody gets to be excited."

The men's team plans to celebrate at 6 p.m. on Monday as they have roll Toomer's Corner party to mark the third national championship in AU men's swimming history. AU's first swimming national title was in 1997 for the men.

"This was just an awesome night for us," Marsh adds. "Everything went better than I could have imagined."

All 19 team members that Auburn took to the NCAA meet scored and the Tigers scored in all 21 events. The 19 combined to collect 61 All-America honors, the most in school history. "The fact that all 19 athletes scored in every event shows the diversity of the team," Marsh says. "We are not about one star even though we have bright young stars in George Bovell and Fred Bousquet and veterans like Bryce Hunt. I am just delighted."

On Thursday at the three-day meet on the campus of the University of Texas, the Tigers served notice to No. 1 ranked Stanford, defending national champ Texas and others that Auburn was the team to beat. Auburn racked up 206 points on the opening day, nearly doubling Stanford, which scored 121. California was third with 114 and the host Longhorns had 107. Marsh called Auburn's opening day performance a special one. "For us we had nothing short of a fabulous session," he said.

Day two on Friday got off to a very strong start as the Tigers came through in the preliminary events and were able to pile up the points in the finals that night to stretch the lead to 449 to 282 over Texas, which jumped Stanford and Cal. Stanford ended day two in third with 272 points, Cal scored 238 and Southern Cal moved past Florida as the fifth place team with 190 points.

Auburn became just the second team in NCAA history to score more than 600 points with its 609.5 total in taking a 196.5-point victory.

The Tigers virtually locked up the title on day two and in the day three prelims. On Saturday night, the big question was how large the victory would be. The highlight was a first place by diver Caesar Garcia in the platform diving.

Bryce Hunt, who had set the school record in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1:41.48 in the prelims, finished third in the finals in a time of 1:41.96 on Saturday night to take his fifth All-American honor of the championships. George Bovell (1:45.73) and Chad Barlow (1:46.37) finished14th and 15th,.

In the 100-yard freestyle, 50-yard free champion Fred Bousquet of Auburn swam 42.69 to take third. Ryan Wochomurka was fourth with a 42.79.

Justin Caron, the senior captain, swam a personal-record time of 1:56.26 to take fourth in the 200-yard breaststroke. Will Brandt swam a personal-best 1:56.42 to win the consolation finals.

Captain Justin Caron

In the final individual swimming event, the 200-yard butterfly, Jeremy Knowles produced a personal-best 1:43.61 in the 200 butterfly to place sixth.

In platform diving competition, Garcia tied for first with Michigan's Jason Coben at 575.80 points. Matt Bricker took fifth place with a score of 518.35.

The Tigers wrapped up the meet as the 400-yard freestyle relay of Bovell, Wochomurka, Kidd and Bousquet clocked a 2:49.68 to break the old NCAA record in a time of 2:49.68, but Cal won the event at 2:48.99.

The title is Auburn's first since they brought the trophy home in 1999 and combined with the women‚s program is the fifth title in the David Marsh era, all coming since 1997. It marks the first time in five years that both the men‚s and women‚s teams from the same school claimed titles in the same year, the last being Stanford in 1998.

Bousquet, who finished with 48 points and the second-high point scorer of the meet, led the team with seven All-America honors while Caesar Garcia was also among the Top 10 scorers at the meet, bringing home 41.5 points, the ninth-most of the meet.

The 609.5 point total is the most at an NCAA meet since Stanford posted 632 points in 1992 and is the highest point total for Auburn. The old mark was 496.5 from the 1997 championship in Minneapolis. The 196.5 margin of victory is also the largest in Tiger history, surpassing the 1997 margin of 156.5 over Stanford.

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