Tigers Put On AUsome Display During SEC Sweep

Auburn swimmers broke eight SEC records and won 25 events in taking the men's and women's titles at the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships.

Athens, Ga.--Domination by the Auburn men and a strong all-around showing by the Auburn women were the stories of the 2004 SEC Swimming and Diving Championships.

With strong finishes on Saturday night to close the four-day competition, the Auburn men cruised to their eighth straight conference crown and the women's team won for the second straight year.

The men set an SEC scoring record with 1,008 points. Auburn¹s 1,008 points gave them an easy victory over runnerup Florida (705), Georgia (469) and Tennessee (369).

Auburn¹s 846 points was the most for the Auburn women at the SEC Championships. Host Georgia was second with 756 and was followed by Florida with 680 and Tennessee with 264.

Auburn swimmers also won the top individual honors taking home the SEC Commissioner's Trophy as the high point scorers. Junior Fred Bousquet and junior Kirsty Coventry were the high-point scorers. Bousquet claimed individual titles in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle and 100 butterfly while Coventry won both individual medley races and the 200 backstroke.

Coach David Marsh was thrilled with the victories. "The senior class has really just topped it all off," Marsh said. "I knew we were capable of a lot and they have done even more. It is really sweet and I am just so happy for these seniors. They train hard together and now they can celebrate together."

The final runs to victory on Saturday night started when freshman Adrienne Binder broke the oldest women's SEC record on the books when she swam 15:51.70 in the 1650 freestyle. Teammate Hayley Peirsol finished fourth in 16:13.94.

"My race plan was to go a little faster, but I can't complain," Binder said. "It was really exciting and I got the job done for Auburn."

Kirsty Coventry

Coventry won her third individual title of the championships in the 200 IM when she raced to a personal-best time of 1:56.90. The win marked the fourth-straight year that Auburn has won both the 200 and 400 IMs. "This is my best time ever, and this has been such a great meet," Coventry said. "I just wanted to go out there and have fun."

Coventry was joined in the finals by Lauren Duerk, who placed fourth with a career-best 2:00.09, and Leslie Lunsmann, who was eighth with a 2:01.58. Demerae Christianson finished 11th with a time of 2:01.92.

Bovell successfully defended his 200 IM title as he swam a SEC-record 1:43.73, the first of five Tigers to the wall. He was followed in the championship finals by Mark Gangloff in third (1:44.69), Eric Shanteau in fourth (1:45.36), Jeremy Knowles in sixth (1:47.45) and Doug Van Wie in eighth (1:49.25). Another Tiger, Kurt Cady, was the top finisher in the consolation finals, clocking a 1:46.71.

Bovell's repeat as the 200 IM champion marked the first time that a Tiger has defended a title in the event since Scott Spann did it in 1977 and 1978.

Auburn's swimmers celebrate with their championship trophies.

Eileen Coparropa grabbed her first 100 freestyle SEC title when the senior swam a 48.57. She led a quartet of Tigers as Becky Short placed third (48.99), Christina Swindle was fourth (49.28) and Heather Kemp seventh (49.87).

"I just raced the clock today," Coparropa said. "Becky (Short) and I are seniors, and I can't think of a better way to end our senior year than finishing first and third at the SEC meet."

Bousquet picked up his sixth overall title of the championships when the SEC 100 freestyle record-holder broke his own one-year-old record when he clocked a 42.53 to place first. He was followed by teammate Ryan Wochomurka in second (43.02) and Derek Gibb in fourth (43.55).

"I don¹t think we have much else to prove in this meet," Wochomurka said. "We have some preparation to get ready for NCAAs, but this has been a great meet."

The Auburn men put together an awesome run during the championships as the Tigers won 13-straight events over the course of three sessions. The streak started with B.J. Jones' victory in the 500 freestyle in Thursday night's second event and went throuh Bousquet claiming the 50 free, giving the Tigers a sweep of all of the sprint freestyle events.

The men's string of consecutive titles ended in the 1650 free, but not without a strong effort. Nate Knopf swam a personal-best 15:09.49 to place third while Jones was fifth with a time of 15:17.58. Daniel Slocki also had a strong swim at 15:25.92 to place seventh.

Senior Ashley Rubenstein came through with an SEC meet personal-best finish of third on the platform with a score of 394.40, the highest finals total of her career. Rachel Korth joined her in the finals, placing seventh with a score of 368.60, giving her the first top eight finish of her career at SECs.

With the meet in hand leading up to the 400 medley relay, the only thing left to do for the women was break their own school record for points. Coventry led off the relay with a 53.16 and was followed by Laura Swander's 1:02.14 on the breaststroke. Margaret Hoelzer's fly leg of 51.77 led into Coparropa's freestyle leg of 49.37, which placed the Tigers second and pushed them past last season's mark.

With the 1,000-point barrier possible to achieve, the senior quartet of Bryce Hunt, Gangloff, Jeremy Knowles and Gibb won the 400 medley relay in style, clocking a 3:09.39, outswimming second-place LSU by almost three full seconds.

"This is what it is all about, the seniors coming together and getting the job done," Gibb said. ³This is great.²

The AU men finished the SEC Championships with 15 titles while the Auburn women won 10. The 15 is an Auburn high, surpassing 1999's total of 13 while the 25 combined is also an all-time best for Auburn swimming.

Georgia Coach Jack Bauerle said, "We are pleased with third on the men's side, and absolutely elated with the second place finish of our ladies. On the women's side, we stayed with them (Auburn) as long as we could, but we¹ve made substantial improvements from where we were a year ago. The point spread that we're down to Auburn is much less than it was last year and we are just thrilled with our progress."

The Tigers celebrated by taking their traditional dip in the pool. Both Auburn teams will try to repeat that at the nationals in March where they are the defending champions. The women's championships will be held March 18-20 at College Station, Tex., while the men's championships are set March 25-27 at Long Island, N.Y.

SEC Women's Final Scores
1. Auburn 846

2. Georgia 756

3. Florida 680

4. Tennessee 264

5. South Carolina 263

6. Kentucky 252.5

7. Arkansas 236

8. Alabama 222.5

9. LSU 212

SEC Men's Final Scores

1. Auburn 1008

2. Florida 705

3. Georgia 469

4. Tennessee 369

5. Kentucky 309

6. Alabama 296

7. LSU 242

8. South Carolina 238

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