Double Champs: AU Swimmers Sweep SEC Meet

In an exciting competition on the University of Florida campus, Auburn charged to victories at the men's and women's SEC Championships.

Gainesville, Fla.--They had to rally from a slow start to do it, but both the men's and women's swimming teams defended their SEC Swimming and Diving Championship titles at the O'Connell Center pool.

In one of the more closely contested meets in SEC history, the women's team won its third consecutive title with an 816-809 victory over No. 1 ranked Georgia.

The men's meet wasn't an upset and it wasn't quite as close as the women's meet, but the Tigers didn't have much margin for error going into the final events on Saturday night as they finished in first place with 829.5 points to 801.5 for host Florida.

The Auburn men, who are ranked number one nationally, have now won nine consecutive SEC titles and will be shooting for a third straight NCAA title next. The women's team, which is ranked No. 2 nationally, will be competing for its fourth straight NCAA title.

"It's thrilling and in this fashion a bit shocking," said Auburn coach David Marsh. "This is probably the most competitive SEC meet that I've ever experienced and I've been involved with the SEC as a swimmer and a coach since 1978. It was another classic example of iron sharpening iron as the teams went at it in so many different ways."

Coach David Marsh

Kirsty Coventry, a three-time Olympic medal winner in Athens last summer, led the Auburn women's team charge as the high point scorer in the women's competition with 60 points.

Another Olympian, Fred Bousquet, scored 56 points to lead the men's team. That was the third highest total behind Ryan Lochte of Florida, who finished with 60 points, and Chris Colwill of Georgia who scored 57.

Coventry won both of the individual medley races and the 200 backstroke to take her second straight Commissioner's Trophy. "I love my team," the senior said. "They came in here with positive energy and we've been so excited for a month. There are so many more good things to come at NCAAs."

Other Auburn women swimmers who led the charge to victory were sophomore Adrienne Binder and senior Margaret Hoelzer with 52 points apiece in fifth place, freshman Emily Kukors with 48.5 points in eighth and freshman Kara Denby at ninth with 44.5 points.

Coventry set an SEC and school record of 1:51.43 in the 200 backstroke, the same event she won an Olympic gold medal in last summer in Greece.

"This was my last race at the conference meet for Auburn so I just wanted to go out and make it good," Coventry said. "You always come into a meet hoping for the best. I'm just so happy that things could work. It's been a really good meet."

Sophomore diver Steven Segerlin tied for fourth with 53 points while juniors Eric Shanteau, and Doug Van Wie tied for sixth with 50 points and George Bovell was ninth with 48.5 points.

The seven point Auburn edge in the women's competition is the smallest margin of victory for the Tigers during their three year run as league champs.

The women's and men's teams had plenty to celebrate on Saturday night.

The men's team victory by 28 points is the closest an opponent has been to the Tigers at the SEC Championships since Florida lost by 19 points in 2002 in Fayetteville, Ark.

Auburn's five titles was its lowest total in a championship season since 2002 while the five titles on the women's side was the lowest total for the AU women during their run.

Joining Coventry in the 200 back finals were junior Jeri Moss, who was fourth with a 1:55.68, junior Erin Volcan, who was fifth at 1:56.09, and sophomore Tawnie Bethune, who was eighth at 2:02.52. Moss' time was a two-second drop on her previous personal best.

Senior Fred Bousquet successfully defended his 100 free title when he went 42.81 to just out-touch teammate junior George Bovell, who went 43.05. Bousquet joined former Auburn great Brock Newman as the only Tigers to ever successfully defend his title in the event. The title, along with his 50 free and 200 free relay titles, gave Bousquet the most SEC titles of any Auburn man at 15, surpassing Newman's 14.

A big "War Eagle" was called for following Auburn's victory in Gainesville.

"I'm very happy to win. It was a very hard race," Bousquet said. "We (Auburn and Florida) have been battling all weekend. I'm not so happy about the time, but hopefully, I'll swim better at NCAAs."

Other Tigers to swim in the 100 free finals was senior Ryan Wochomurka, who was fourth at 43.36, and sophomore Bryan Lundquist, who was fifth at 43.67. Junior Kurt Cady collected a 14th-place finish with his 44.47 showing.

Sophomore Adrienne Binder became the first Tiger to win back-to-back titles in the mile since Libby Pruden did it in 1984 and 1985 when she went an SEC-record 15:50.00, breaking her own school record by 1.70 seconds, which she set at last year's conference championships.

Teammate and classmate Hayley Peirsol was right behind her, finishing in 15:51.97 and joining Binder as the only Auburn women to ever go under 16 minutes in the event. "It made it easier having Adrienne next to me," Peirsol said. "I knew she was right in front of me."

Auburn finished 2-3 behind Georgia's Mary DeScenza's SEC record 1:53.51 in the 200 butterfly, the final individual race of the meet, to all but finish off the field for their third straight title. Hoelzer finished third with a personal-best 1:55.70 while sophomore Tawnie Bethune picked up her second third-place finish of the championships with a 1:56.27. Freshman Kirsten Hastrup was seventh with a 1:59.32. Senior Alessandra Lawless was 11th with a 1:59.67.

Margaret Hoelzer

"I felt really good," Hoelzer said. "I've been racing for a few years and that was my best time since my freshman year, so I'm really happy to go out on a high note." Hoelzer said.

Florida's Ryan Locthe set an American, NCAA and US Open record 1:38.29 in the 200 backstroke, but it was Auburn which built its lead as senior Chad Barlow finished second with an Auburn record 1:40.83. Junior Doug Van Wie, who won the 100 back Friday night, was third with a 1:42.27, also a personal-best. Sophomore Joey Schnieder added a seventh-place finish with a 1:46.00 while freshman Scott Goodrich was 11th at 1:46.55.

Auburn's run to defend on the final night began in the 1650 freestyle. Senior Nate Knopf (15:14.44), freshman Shai Livnat (15:19.33) and senior B.J. Jones (15.19.87) finished seventh through ninth, respectively, garnering 32 points for the Tigers. Sophomore Daniel Slocki did his part by placing 11th with a time of 15:26.03, which was just over a quarter-of-a-second off of his best time.

Auburn sent four women into the finals of the 100 free and had a tie between freshman classmates Emily Kukors and Kara Denby, who both went personal-bests 48.94 to finish third. Junior Jana Kolukanova was sixth with a 49.52 while her classmate Leslie Lunsmann was eighth at 49.78. Jenni Anderson was 12th with a 50.05 in the consolation finals, the fastest of her career. Georgia's Kara Lynn Joyce won with a 47.87.

Junior Eric Shanteau was one one-hundredth of a second off of his best time in finishing third in the men's 200 breaststroke at 1:57.86. Sean Osborne swam in the consolation finals, going 1:59.62 to finish 10th. Alabama's Vlad Polyakov swept the breaststroke titles with a SEC record 1:55.09.

Auburn took three of the top seven spots in the women's 200 breaststroke. Freshman Julie Stupp was the top AU finisher with a personal-best 2:12.97, becoming just the fourth Auburn women to ever go under 2:13.00.

Sophomore Anne Amardeilh posted a career best time in finishing fifth (2:14.68) while junior Lauren Duerk was seventh at 2:16.39. Alabama's Anne Poleska won with a 2:10.50 after Florida's Vipa Bernhardt was disqualified for a non-simultaneous touch.

Freshman Rory Connell went a personal-best 1:46.57 to place sixth in the men's 100 fly while teammates Barlow was eighth at 1:46.92 and freshman Mark Johnson won the consolation finals at 1:45.50 to place ninth. Johnson's time was the fourth-best time in Auburn history. Kentucky's Daniel Cruz won the event with a 1:42.86.

The final event of the meet was the 400 freestyle relay, and all Auburn needed to do on the men's side was finish while the women just needed to place in the top five to ensure their title.

First to the blocks were the men, who went 2:52.59 to finish second and win their ninth straight SEC championship. Bousquet led off at 42.94 and was followed by Wochomurka (43.21), senior BJ Jones (43.83) and Bovell (42.61). Florida won the relay with a SEC record 2:50.68.

Next it was the women's turn to put the clamps on the title. Denby (49.20), Coventry (48.28), Kolukanova (48.86) and Kukors (49.04) went 3:15.38 to finish second behind Georgia's 3:13.47 to win a third straight title.

Women's Scoring

1. Auburn 816

2. Georiga 809

3. Florida 659

4. Kentucky 339

5. South Carolina 257

6. Alabama 238

7. Tennessee 217

8. LSU 181

9. Arkansas 147


1. Auburn 829.5

2. Florida 801.5

3. Georgia 542

4. Kentucky 426

5. Alabama 340.5

6. Tennessee 303

7. LSU 189.5

8. South Carolina 160

Auburn Results

Mens 1650 Freestyle

1. Sebastian Roualut (UGA) 14:41.20

7. Nate Knopf 15:14.44

8. Shai Livnat 15:19.33

9. BJ Jones 15:19.87

11. Daniel Slocki 15:26.03

Women's 1650 Freestyle

1. Adrienne Binder 15:50.00*

2. Hayley Peirsol 15:51.97

Men's 200 Backstroke 1. Ryan Lochte (UF) 1:38.29

2. Chad Barlow 1:40.83

3. Doug Van Wie 1:42.27

7. Joey Schneider 1:46.00

11. Scott Goodrich 1:46.55

Women's 200 Backstroke

1. Kirsty Coventry 1:51.43*

4. Jeri Moss 1:55.68

5. Erin Volcan 1:56.09

8. Tawnie Bethune 2:02.52

Men's 100 Freestyle

1. Fred Bousquet 42.81

2. George Bovell 43.05

4. Ryan Wochomurka 43.36

5. Bryan Lundquist 43.67

14. Kurt Cady 44.47

Women's 100 Freestyle

T3. Kara Denby 48.94

T3. Emily Kukors 48.94

6. Jana Kolukanova 49.52 8. Leslie Lunsmann 49.78

12. Jenni Anderson 50.05

Men's 200 Breaststroke

1. Vlad Polyakov (UA) 1:55.09

3. Eric Shanteau 1:57.86

10. Sean Osborne 1:59.62

Women's 200 Breaststroke

1. Anne Poleska (Bama) 2:10.50

3. Julie Stupp 2:12.97

5. Anne Amardeilh 2:14.68

7. Lauren Duekr 2:16.39

Men's 200 Butterfly

1. Daniel Cruz (UK) 1:42.86

6. Rory Connell 1:46.57

8. Chad Barlow 1:46.92

9. Mark Johnson 1:45.43

Women's 200 Butterfly

1. Mary DeScenza (UGA) 1:53.51

2. Margaret Hoelzer 1:55.70

3. Tawnie Bethune 1:56.27

7. Kristen Hastrup 1:59.32

11. Alessandra Lawless 1:59.67

Men's 400 Freestyle Relay

1. Florida 2:50.68 (Lochte * 42.56, Townsend * 42.67, Penniman * 43.05, Sioui * 42.40)

2. Auburn 2:52.59 (Bousquet * 42.94, Wochomurka * 43.21, Jones * 43.83, Bovell * 42.61)

Women's 400 Freestyle Relay

1. Georgia 3:13.47 (Weir * 48.64, Kearns * 48.97, DeScenza * 48.45, Joyce * 47.41)

2. Auburn 3:15.38 (Denby * 49.20, Coventry * 48.28, Kolukanova * 48.86, Kukors * 49.04)

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