The Good Times Roll For NCAA Champions

Auburn, Ala.--Team captain Pat Calhoun said that he could see the possibilities for a men's national championship early in his senior season.

Calhoun and his teammates were in a celebratory mood on Monday evening as they joined in an NCAA victory party at Toomer's Corner to commemorate the third national title in Auburn men's swimming history, the fifth overall NCAA swimming title for Auburn University and the second in the month of March for the Tigers.

Calhoun and his fellow seniors had come up short the previous three seasons. They finished second as freshmen, one year after the Tigers won the 1999 title. They slipped to seventh as sophomores and were third as juniors. However, this season as seniors they helped the Tigers overwhelm the opposition at the NCAA Swimming And Diving Championships that ended Saturday night in Austin, Tex.

The celebration starts on Monday evening at Toomer's Corner.

Auburn won by scoring 609.5 points at the national meet, the second highest total in NCAA Championship history. 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. California was fourth with 329 and Southern California fifth with 268.

Calhoun said, "Everybody in the senior class could have given up after the first two or three years and said, ‘It is not going to happen.' Everyone stuck around and kept fighting, whether they were on the NCAA team or not. We really did an awesome job this year and we really won by a lot so the commitment level on this team was extraordinary."

The men finished the dual meet season undefeated and cruised to an easy victory at the SEC Championship as they won the league title for a seventh straight season. Even then, the focus was on the big prize, the national title. Auburn's dominating performance was a true victory. The Tigers qualified the maximum number of competitors allowed--17 swimmers and two divers. All 19 scored points for the Tigers who scored in every event at the NCAA Championships.

"I think when we took our Christmas training trip to Cocoa Beach we knew that we could win the national championship," Calhoun said. "Everybody did just an amazing job there. You could just tell everybody was on the same page working towards the same goal. When you have 30 guys working on the same goal, you can accomplish a lot.

"When it came time for December, we did a great job there," Calhoun noted. "When we came back to school we swam (defending national champion) Texas and did a great job there. We won that meet pretty handily against a very, very, very strong opponent and everybody knew then we were set and ready to go to NCAAs and win a national championship."

Calhoun and his teammates packed Toomer's Corner on Monday evening along with friends and Auburn supporters. In brief remarks to the crowd, Coach David Marsh said, "We scored in every single event of the meet. It couldn't have been a better royal flush. It was very much the leadership of the program--the captains, the seniors--who led us all the way."

Calhoun followed by thanking each individual member of the team and the fans. He added, "Everybody knows this is the best damn coaching staff in the country, hands down."

Auburn athletic director David Housel said, "Winning two national championships in one week--it doesn't get much better than that. You have to be so proud--not only of this men's team and the women's team, but especially of David and his staff. The fact that David is a product of the Auburn swimming program just makes it all that much better. We are going for a three-peat for the women's and a repeat for the men."


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