"We are very thrilled and honored to come out of here with a victory," Coach David Marsh said after the victory on Saturday night. "What I think you saw during this meet was really truly how many awesome swimmers there are in the NCAAs.
"One of the things I tell my team is that when you win a swimming title, you are competing in the highest level athletic venue in collegiate sports," Marsh added. "To win a team title is very special and different every time."
Auburn's third title was perhaps its most impressive with the Tigers scoring 569 total points, the most in school history. Auburn's total is the highest total at the NCAA Championships since 1993 when Stanford scored 649.5.
Junior Kirsty Coventry led the Tigers on the final night of competition on the campus of Texas A&M University by winning the 200 backstroke in an NCAA meet record time of 2:03.86. She was nearly two seconds faster than her teammate Margaret Hoelzer, who was the runnerup. Natalie Coughlin, a senior from Cal and the world record holder in the event, finished third. It was the first race the senior had ever lost as a collegian.
"It was a good race, probably my best race of the whole meet," Coventry said. "I just wanted to go out there and have fun and that is exactly what I did. Natalie is an amazingly talented swimmer. Whenever I get in next to her I have to remind myself that I can't swim her race, I can only worry about my race. It just all came together for me tonight."
Kirsty Coventry had a big week in Texas.
Hoelzer and Coventry were the third-highest scorers of the national championships, both scoring 54 individual points.
The Tigers became the fourth team to capture three-straight titles in NCAA women's swimming history. To celebrate the title, Auburn's swimmers will be at Toomer's Corner at 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Auburn swimmers earned a total of 55 All-America honors, 20 of them from the senior class as AU scored in 20 of the 21 events with points coming from all 18 athletes at the championships.
Freshman Adrienne Binder opened the night with a seventh-place finish in the 1500 freestyle in 16:06.57. Another freshman, Hayley Peirsol, swam 16:15.75 to place 16th.
In the 100 freestyle, the Tigers took the fifth through eight spots to build their lead. Freshman Christina Swindle was fifth in 55.08 and followed by seniors Eileen Coparropa (55.17), Becky Short (55.18) and Heather Kemp (55.63).
"The seniors embrace this team, not only with guidance and leadership and talent, but they embrace them like little sisters and help them grow and nurture them," AU co-head women's coach Kim Brackin said. "They are extremely special."
Demerae Christianson helped the Tigers do a lot of winning in her four seasons at AU.
In the final individual event, senior Demerae Christianson won the 200 butterfly consolation finals in a time of 2:10.07.
"All season we have trained real hard and it has always been our goal to win three in a row," Christianson said. "It just feels good to get the job done and to celebrate not with just the senior class, but the whole team. It is just so special. Hopefully, we have left something behind for the team next year."
Short put the finishing touches on the title by swimming the anchor leg of the runner-up 400 freestyle relay, which clocked a 3:36.50. Georgia won the event in an NCAA , American and U.S. Open record time of 3:35.14. Coparropa led off the relay in a time of 54.79 and was followed by Hoelzer's 53.57, Swindle's 54.44 and Short's 53.70.
Sophomore Jeri Moss was the last Tiger to earn All-America honors as she placed 14th in the 200 back with a time of 2:11.78. Sophomore Jana Kolukanova won the consolation of the 50 free in a time of 54.98. Sophomore Lauren Duerk (2:29.03) and freshman Anne Amardeilh (2:31.50) picked up points in the 200 breaststroke, placing 14th and 16th.
AU's senior class is the most successful in school history with its three NCAA titles, two SEC titles and a 30-0 dual meet record with 86 All-America honors.
2. Georgia 431
3. Arizona 369
4. Florida 253
5. Stanford 237
6. California 235.5
7. UCLA 195
8. Texas 169
9. Southern Cal 160
10. Wisconsin 35
11. South Carolina 120.5
12. Indiana 119
13. Michigan 114.5
14. Arizona State 107
15. Penn State 101
16. Texas A&M 100.5
17. Florida State 84
18. SMU 72
19. Virginia 53
20. Oregon State 45
21. Alabama 43
22. Houston 36
23. North Carolina 31
24. LSU 29.5
25. Notre Dame 28