Tigers Looking For More NCAA Championships

Auburn, Ala.--It was literally a banner season for both the women's and men's swimming teams. On Friday and Saturday, both squads will be honored for their accomplishments of winning SEC and national titles.

At 5:30 p.m. Friday at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center, there will be a ceremony to unveil the national championship banners that will hang at the pool. It is a second straight national title for the Auburn women, who had a dominating performance in repeating as champs. The men's team was also dominant on the way to its national crown.

Senior members of the 2003 Auburn teams will be introduced and will speak along with AU officials. There will be a diving exhibition.

On Saturday, the teams will receive their national championship rings at halftime of the Western Kentucky at Auburn football game and will participate with the football team in the pre-game Tiger Walk.

Two new banners will go next to the one won by the AU women the previous season.

Auburn has the talent to make a run at more national titles with many key members of both the men's and women's teams on the 2003-2004 squads. "I haven't seen this level of excitement starting a year in a long time," says Coach David Marsh. "It is interesting because the excitement is coming off of these international trips and our swimmers seeing the possibility of fulfilling their Olympic dream. The Olympic dream is something they usually get the first time they swim a competitive lap across a pool, usually when they are six to eight years old."

Marsh notes that virtually every member of the men's and women's swimming team is good enough to qualify for the Olympic Trials for the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece. That will be a major focus for many of the Auburn swimmers.

"We are also in recovery from winning championships so handily last year that the teams are having to adjust to their new leadership," Marsh adds. The coach says the talent is there to be champions again. "Putting together the team element is probably more of a challenge now," he says. "We have many individual top-notch swimmers now who are already mentally on their Olympic paths."

Diver Ashley Rubenstein and swimmer Becky Short have been voted captains of the women's team. "They are the captains of arguably the best class of swimmers I have ever had in our program," Marsh says. "The members of this senior class are largely responsible for two national championships. With any steps forward, they should have a great chance to lead us to a third.

"On the men's side, we couldn't get it down to two captains so we went to tri-captains," says Marsh, who was named the 2003-2004 Inside the Auburn Tigers Coach of the Year. "Bryce Hunt, Mark Gangloff and Jeremy Knowles all had breakout summers (in international meets)."

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