Swimmers Finish 3rd at NCAA Championships

Athens, Ga.--Auburn was not able to overcome a poor opening day performance and finished third at the NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships that finished Saturday night.

Texas, a team that Auburn easily defeated in a head to head matchup in Austin, was the surprise winner of the three day event. The defending national champion Longhorns scored 512 points to nip top-ranked Stanford, which finished with 501 in one of the closest team competitions in NCAA swimming history. Auburn, which was ranked second coming into the competition, scored 365.5 to finish one spot ahead of Florida.

"The biggest thing was that our first night was probably the worst session we have ever had and the group stayed poised and fought back," Auburn coach David Marsh said Saturday night after the competition. "I think that we had the most consistent rate of improvement throughout the meet and often that will win you a championship. We have a great future in diving. This is the first meet I can think of where diving decided the championship and we have the two best returning divers in Caesar (Garcia) and Matt (Bricker)."

All 17 of Auburn's swimmers and both divers who competed at the Gabrielsen Natatorium on the University of Georgia campus scored for the Tigers and thus earned All-American status.

Auburn had a solid final day of competition, placing nine swimmers in championship or consolation finals.

Freshman Bricker came through with a third in platform diving with a score of 565.85. Bricker was seventh after the preliminaries, but had a strong Saturday night performance. Garcia, a sophomore, finished ninth with 499.95 points. "That was a great comeback for Matt," AU diving coach Jeff Shaffer said. "This morning, he had four great dives and then had to struggle to get into the finals, but he stepped it up in the finals and stayed a contender throughout. For a freshman to come in there and battle for third, I couldn't be more proud."

Bricker said, "I finished above my expectations after this morning. The crowd was behind me though and they were generating incredible energy. I got more confidence throughout the night and I got a new surge of energy with every dive."

Kirk Hampleman also earned a third place for the Tigers, earning praise from his coaches for a strong effort in the 200 backstroke in a time of 1:42.57. Teammate Bryce Hunt finished sixth in 1:43.34. In the consolation finals, Jon Karr swam to a 16th place finish in a time of 1:46.06.

"Kirk has had his best year as a senior and he really went out in style tonight," Marsh said. "I just can't say enough about him and his performance at this meet."

Senior Kevin Clements finished his career at Auburn with a 10th place in the 1650 freestyle with a school-record time of 15:01.12.

Auburn placed two swimmers in the consolation finals of the 100 freestyle as Ryan Wochomurka swam to a 13th place in a time of 43.78 while Matt Kidd finished 16th in 44.47.

Sophomore Mark Ga, who finished second in the 100 breast Friday night, claimed 13th in the 200 with a time of 1:58.51. Justin Caron was disqualified in the event.

In the final event, Wochomurka, Kidd, Derek Gibb and Clay Kirkland finished fourth in the 400 freestyle relay in a time of 2:52.98. The four swimmers are all first-year collegians for a team that will return 15 of its 19 NCAA team members.

NCAA Men's Swimming Final Team Scoring

1. Texas 512

2. Stanford 501

3. Auburn 365.5

4. Florida 277

5. Southern California 272

6. California 271

7. Arizona 242

8. Minnesota 216

9. Michigan 183

10. Georgia 167


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