Tigers Looking For Three In A Row National Titles

Minneapolis, Minn.--Auburn will be trying to win its third straight NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving national championship when the Tigers begin competition on Thursday morning at the University of Minnesota campus.

Auburn coach David Marsh won his first national title at the pool in 1997 and has a team capable of winning again this season, although he says the Tigers will have to swim very well to come out on top with strong challenges expected from Stanford, Cal, Florida and Arizona.

Led by a strong group of seniors, the Tigers are looking for the fifth overall national championship for the men's swim team. Earlier this season, Auburn won its ninth consecutive SEC title.

At last year's meet in New York, the Tigers dominated the field, scoring an NCAA meet record total of 634 points. The Tigers return four NCAA individual champions with Fred Bousquet, George Bovell, Doug Van Wie and Ryan Wochomurka swimming again this season. Together that group has earned 12 NCAA event titles, with Olympian Bousquet leading the group with five and Olympian Bovell adding four. Wochomurka has two titles in his name and Van Wie has one.

"It is exciting because you sense the men have taken care of business to get prepared and now they get to have a little fun and get emotional," says Marsh, whose women's team finished as the NCAA runnerup last weekend.

"I think the key to our team is to have the leaders do what they are capable of doing and lead by making multiple finals," Marsh adds. "From a few of our underclassmen, if we can have a couple of breakout performances, we will begin to gather the right amount of points.

"The challenging thing is that the events we are real strong in, the meet is real strong in so we can't take anything for granted in the morning sessions," Marsh says. "Our ace in the hole is our divers. We have two of the best divers in the competition. Certainly, if they can accumulate a good number of points toward the total, we will be in the hunt." Steven Segerlin was the runnerup on the platform last year to former teammate Caesar Garcia. Matt Bricker also will dive for the Tigers.

The Tigers qualified the maximum number of competitors allowed and will have 17 swimmers competing with the two divers.

Marsh says he wants his Tigers to make an early statement on day one of the meet on Thursday. "The key for us, really, is to get off to a good start the first day and not have to respond to someone else's great start," he says.

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