Tigers Win Sixth Straight SEC Swimming Crown

Fayetteville, Ark.--With a charge on Friday and a solid Saturday morning and night to cement their lead, the Auburn men's swimming team won its sixth straight SEC Swimming And Diving Championship.

The women's team, considered to have a chance to break Georgia's stranglehold on the women's crown, finished a close third behind Florida and Georgia, which had won every title since 1997.

The Tigers scored 763 in the men's competition to beat Florida by 19 points. Georgia was third with 522.5

In the women's competition, Florida scored 742.5, Georgia scored 719 and Auburn was third with 693.5

The men's swimming team celebrates its victory at the SEC meet.

"On the men's side, Florida brought its best," Auburn coach David Marsh said. "They were very impressive and were the best I thought they could be. I am proud of our men and their response to the challenge. Our strength was, and always has been, our depth. That is what it takes."

Commenting on the AU women, associate head coach Kim Brackin said, "As a coach, I am thrilled by our performance. But if I look at it as just a person, I am sad with not walking away with the title.

"All year we have focused on our goals and we've taken an enormous step and actually performed better than I thought we would. So I am optimistic heading into the NCAA meet. The format of NCAAs is better for us and we will take the next three weeks to prepare. I am excited with our possibilities."

Kevin Clements had a big meet for the Tigers.

Kevin Clements and Kirsty Coventry each finished second in individual point totals for the week with Coventry tallying 53 points with a first, second and third place finishes for the AU women and Clements earning 57 points with two first place finishes and a second for the AU men.

Auburn set eight school records and two SEC records from Maggie Bowen (200 individual medley) and Demerae Christianson (100 butterfly). The women's team has placed 10 into the NCAA Championship meet and 11 men have qualified.

The Auburn women began the finals competition on Saturday night with a fourth place finish from Magda Dyszkiewicz in a time of 16:32.16 and Heather Kemp taking eighth place in 16:42.23.

Clements just missed sweeping his three individual events as he finished second in the 1650 freestyle with a time of 15:05.23, James Galloway took fifth for the Tigers with a time of 15:22.30 and B.J. Jones took eighth in the event with a time of 15:29.83. "Kevin's leadership really made a difference in this meet," Marsh said. "Mark's (Gangloff)> top three finishes and Ryan Wochomurka's relays and individual events were really strong for us. And thank goodness for our breaststroke. That really gave us confidence."

Freshman Margaret Hoelzer won the SEC title in the 200 backstroke with a school record time of 1:55.35 and Coventry, who won the 100 back title on Friday, finished second for the Tigers with a time of 1:55.39. Taylor Spivey won the consolation in the 200 backstroke in 2:01.38 and Jenni Anderson took 12th for Auburn in 2:03.35. "This is exciting," Hoelzer said. "It is fun to be an SEC Champion. I'll use this as motivation for future races."

In the men's 200 back, the Tigers placed three in the championship finals with Bryce Hunt taking third (1:43.66), Kirk Hampleman fifth in 1:43.84 and Jon Karr taking seventh in 1:46.09.

Sophomore Eileen Coparropa took third in the 100 freestyle with a time of 48.91, which ties her school-record time that she set last season at the SEC Championships. Becky Short finished seventh in the championship finals with a time of 50.01 while Cassidy Maxwell swam to a 10th place finish in a time of 50.37.

Eileen Coparropa was third in the 100 freestyle for the Tigers and swam on the second place 400 freestyle relay team.

Freshmen Ryan Wochomurka and Matt Kidd each placed in the 100 free with Wochomurka taking third in a time of 43.73 and Kidd placing fifth in a time of 44.07 for the Tigers. In the consolation finals, freshman Clay Kirkland finished 10th overall (44.69) and Derek Gibb took 12th with a time of 45.03.

Auburn scored three women in the finals of the 200 breaststroke with Laura Swander in third with a time of 2:14.37, Kelly Jones eighth in 2:18.41 and Abby Hochella in 12th place with a personal-best time of 2:19.81.

Justin Caron swam well in the breaststroke.

The men earned took second and third in the 200 breaststroke with Justin Caron in 1:57.73 and Gangloff swimming 1:57.84. Will Brandt took sixth with a time of 1:59.48 and Pat Calhoun was seventh in 2:00.68.

Christianson, who won the 100 butterfly Friday night, finished third in the 200 butterfly with a time of 1:58.22 while Hoelzer took fourth (1:59.88), Bowen finished 11th (2:01.00) and Lawless finished 14th in a time of 2:02.58.

Senior Christian Cantwell took seventh in the 200 butterfly with a time of 1:47.67 and Andy Haidinyak was 10th place in 1:47.57.

In the 400 freestyle relay, Short, Maxwell, Coventry and Coparropa took second with a time of 3:18.31. On the men's side, Auburn's relay team was disqualified for leaving too early.

"The table was really set for us with the diving and gave us a lead over Florida heading in," Marsh said. "I think the guys really responded to the challenge and they didn't give any excuses. They are very proud to win and continue the history of Auburn swimming and diving.

"I am thrilled for the women. They have really set the tone for our program with this meet. If they had more depth, they would have won, but this was a really great competition and I am sure they are eager to compete for the title at NCAAs and they should be excited for a reason."

Next up for the men are the nationals March 28-30 in Athens, Ga., while the women will be in Austin, Tex., for the NCAA meet from March 21-23. The Tigers will continue their season as they travel to the NCAA Championships in March. The women will travel to Texas for the March 21-23 Championships while the men will head to Georgia for the men's Championships to be held March 28-30.

Men's Final Scoring

1. Auburn 763

2. Florida 744

3. Georgia 522.5

4. Tennessee 476

5. South Carolina 339

6. Alabama 314

7. Kentucky 282

8. LSU 174.5

Women's Final Scoring

1. Florida 742.5

2. Georgia 719

3. Auburn 693.5

4. Alabama 340.5

5. LSU 312

6. South Carolina 285.5

7. Tennessee 240

8. Arkansas 214

9. Kentucky 203

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