After Rolling To Title, Swimmers Roll Toomer's

Auburn, Ala.--The band played, there were a few very short speeches, a trophy presentation and then the Auburn women's swimming team, with hundreds of volunteers from four-year-olds to senior citizens, celebrated a national championship on Monday evening by rolling Toomer's Corner.

Coach David Marsh, a lefty, joined the fun after leading his team to the first ever women's national championship in school history. Marsh, who led the men's team to national titles in 1997 and 1999, was recognized along with all 11 members of his 2001-202 women's team that won the title in Austin, Tex., nine days earlier. Last weekend, the Auburn men finished third at the nationals in Athens, Ga., after winning the the SEC title.

City policemen blocked traffic on Toomer's Corner for the event that featured speeches by All-American junior Maggie Bowen, Marsh, Athletic Director David Housel and AU president Dr. William Walker.

NCAA individual champion Maggie Bowen speaks to the crowd on Monday night.

"The challenge now goes out to our other programs," said Marsh, who said he wants the next women's championship to closely follow the first. That could happen later this spring with the women's golf team ranked No. 1 nationally. "We have an awesome golf team at Auburn," Marsh said. "Kim Evans is leading that team on a similar quest for a national championship."

Bowen, who broke her own American record in the 200 individual medley relay at the nationals, was a key performer for the Auburn squad and received a big cheer when she was introduced. "I just want to say, on behalf of the Auburn swimming and diving program thank you for coming tonight and your support throughout the year. This is an unbelievable dream come true and we are still ecstatic."

AU president William Walker is shown with the NCAA Championship trophy.

Dr. Walker congratulated the team on behalf of the students, faculty and alumni and said, "They have set a record they can be proud of and look back on years from now and relish what they have accomplished."

Athletic Director David Housel told Inside the Auburn Tigers, "Anytime you win a national championship you have to be proud. It doesn't get any better than this. This is a significant championship in that it is the third for our swimming program, which establishes it as one of the nation's best on the men's side and women's side, and it is the first on the women's side and we don't think it will be the last. We possibly could have another one this year.

"There is no question that David Marsh is a dream coach for an athletic director and our president," Housel added. "Number one, he is an Auburn graduate like Coach (Ralph "Shug) Jordan was. He is one of our own with an emphasis on competitive success and academic success. His emphasis on supporting everybody and the family atmosphere of his team that we like at Auburn is something that David exemplifies to the nth degree."

David Marsh speaks during the ceremony as the team listens in the background.

Marsh's team is loaded with honor students and All-American swimmers. All 11 competitors who competed in Austin made the 2002 All-American team as the Tigers set 14 school records in the three days of competition.

Team members include Jenni Anderson, Bowen, Demerae Christianson, Eileen Coparropa, Kirsty Coventry, Magda Dyskiewicz, Margaret Hoelzer, Heather Kemp, Cassidy Maxwell, Becky Short and Laura Swander.

(Photos courtesy of AccessAuburn)

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