AU Teams In First Place At SEC Swimming Meet

Athens, Ga.--After the first of four days of competition, the Auburn's men's and women's swimming teams are in first place at the SEC Swimming And Diving Championships.

The men have scored 233 points and hold a 75-point lead over second-place Florida (158 points). The Auburn women are also in first place with 229 points and lead second place Florida by 74 points.

The women's team took three individual titles on day one and the men's team captured one on Wednesday night at Georgia's Gabrielsen Natatorium.

"On the women's side, it's hard to judge how the meet will go after the first day," Auburn Coach David Marsh said. "We would have been pleased with a one-point lead. There's no question that Georgia, Florida and Auburn are the best three in the country. I'm pleased that it is the fast meet we thought it would be.

"Our men's day was highlighted by the 50 free and our one-two-three finish," said Marsh, whose Auburn teams are both the defending SEC champs. "That's not only good for that group, but they all are a lot faster than this time last year. That is a good sign for the future."

Auburn's first title came in the men's 50 freestyle where junior Fred Bousquet defended his SEC title of a year ago, clocking a 19.48. He was just the leader of an Auburn trio as Ryan Wochomurka placed second with a 19.58 and Derek Gibb a 19.70.

"We do so much sprinting every day," Bousquet said. "We were sprinting together every Tuesday and Friday, and it's just the same at the meet tonight."

The second title on the night came in the next event as Kirsty Coventry continued AU's hold on the 400 individual medley, clocking a 4:08.87 to give her her first title in the event. It was the fifth straight for the Tigers following four straight years of Maggie Bowen's dominance.

"I swam this morning focusing on the breaststroke. Tonight I focused harder on the backstroke and it paid off," Coventry said. "My goal was to get under 4:10, and I did that. It helped to have the crowd, parents and team behind me."

Lauren Duerk, who had been taken to the hospital this morning prior to prelims and arrived at the pool 45 minutes before the prelims session began, stroked the walls for a fourth-place finish in the 400 IM, clocking a 4:13.24.

All-American Margaret Hoelzer

Margaret Hoelzer was next to the top of the podium as the stopped the clock in an Auburn record time of 52.54 in the 100 backstroke. The title was the third straight for Auburn in the event, following Kirsty Coventry's back-to-back victories at the last two championships.

Other finalists for the Tigers in the 100 back were Jeri Moss, who placed fifth (54.61), Jenni Anderson in sixth (54.63), Erin Volcan in seventh (54.71) and Christina Swindle in eighth (55.58).

The final title of the night came in the final women's event as the AU quartet of Hoelzer, Heather Kemp, Adrienne Binder and Coventry stopped the clock in a time of 7:05.58. Hoelzer's lead-off split of 1:44.94 established a new Auburn school record in the 200 freestyle.

The Tigers also picked up five runner-up finishes. Swimming the women's 50 free, Eileen Coparropa placed second for the third straight year with a time of 22.26. Teammate Becky Short was third for the second straight championships with a 22.42 while Jenni Anderson rounded out the championship finals with a time of 22.98.

"I'm so excited with my time and happy that my teammates could finish up and get some points as well," Coparropa said. "I'm really glad to have gotten to swim here against this competition. It's about preparing for the NCAAs now, and this sort of competition is what makes the SEC the best conference in the nation."

The Auburn men's backstroke crew of Bryce Hunt, Chad Barlow, Doug Van Wie and Gibb took four of the top eight spots in the 100 of the stroke. Hunt's time of 46.94 was good enough to take second while Barlow was fifth (47.74), Van Wie sixth (47.85) and Gibb seventh (48.11).

Eric Shanteau collected his second runnerup in as many tries in the 400 IM as the sophomore stroked the walls for a time of 3:44.68. Jeremy Knowles placed fifth with a time of 3:48.48.

In the diving well, Caesar Garcia collected his second consecutive runner-up finish on the 3-meter as the senior scored a 612.80. Matt Bricker (536.65) and Andrew Sivulka (524.60) also dove in the nighttime finals and placed sixth and seventh, respectively, while freshman Steven Segerlin was 10th with a score of 509.35.

"This was a great way to get started today," AU Diving Coach Jeff Shaffer said. "Kudos to Andrew for stepping up and making the finals and Matt was real consistent. Caesar was outstanding. He forced (champion) Philip (Jones) to step-up and nail his last dive, and he did, otherwise the competition would have been Caesar's. I am so proud of what Caesar has done in the four years and the progress he has made."

The final event of the night saw the Tiger's men's 800 free relay squad clock a runner-up time of 6:23.07. BJ Jones led off the relay with a personal-best 1:35.63 split and was followed by Joey Schneider, Wochomurka and George Bovell.

Ashley Rubenstein claimed a fourth-place finish on the 1-meter, scoring a 288.10.

AU collected a total of three consolation finals victories: Christina Swindle in the 50 free (22.72) and Adrienne Binder (4:12.97) and George Bovell (3:50.01) in the 400 IM.

The competition continues on Thursday with prelims beginning at 9:30 a.m. CST. The events to be contested are the 500 freestyle, 100 butterfly, 100 breaststroke, the men's 1-meter, women's 3-meter and the 400 freestyle relay.

Both Auburn teams are undefeated this season and both are ranked No. 1 nationally.

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