"As far as the dual meets go, it feels really good," Shanteau says. "However, that is not what I am really focused on right now. The two big things are still to come--the SECs and the NCAAs. I will be a lot happier when we don't lose those. That will mean a lot more."
For this year's national championships, the Tigers will only have to make a short drive to Atlanta for the NCAA Championships March 23-25 which feature the former Olympic pool complex at Georgia Tech as the host site. The Tigers are going for a fourth straight NCAA title.
"Personally, I am swimming really well," Shanteau says. "I had a really good breaststroke split on the relay today. I have just been getting faster as the year goes on so I am real happy about that."
Marsh's teams have traditionally made major improvements in times for big meets and Shanteau says that could be the case in 2006. "I think by the time SECs roll around, I think we will be looking real good. I think the team is in the same situation I am. They are getting faster as the season goes along. They are starting to sharpen some details like starts, turns, underwater work and things like that."
Shanteau says it would be a thrill to finish his season undefeated in all meets. "It would just be unbelievable if we can do that," he says. "It would a tremendous honor to be a part of that."
Marsh says this year's seniors, both men and women, can be proud of their accomplishments so far.
Commenting on the men's team, the coach says, "The dual meets aren't on our top five list as far as goals are concerned, but winning is. The fact that this year they have had to go into the well to get two big wins at Texas and Florida says a lot about their desire to maintain that winning tradition all the way through.
"I think most any swimming coach would tell you they would give up dual meet victories to win championships and we are the same way, but I think it says a lot about these guys as competitive athletes," the coach adds.
Marsh notes that Olympian Bovell, Cady, Van Wie and Shanteau have been key performers at SEC and NCAA meets their first three years and he expects that to happen again.
"After seeing our team this weekend do some good things like Joey Schneider's 200 individual medley performance (NCAA qualifying time) and Anthony Fleming, a freshman from Louisiana coming around, it looks like the men's team is getting thicker now," Marsh says.
Joey Schneider is smiling in what his coaches and teammates call his "Spider Man" swimsuit after he swam an NCAA qualifying time on Saturday.
"We have seven or eight top-flight guys, but we need the depth to compete all the way through the 18th person at the conference and NCAA meets," Marsh says. It looks like that is picking up.
"On the women's side, I couldn't be more happy with how things are coming along," he adds. "Dorsey Tierney-Walker, the new women's co-head coach, is doing a fabulous job of keeping them on task. We have several people who are training and swimming better than they ever have in their lives."
The Auburn women's team is ranked No. 2 nationally behind SEC rival Georgia. The four seniors on the women's team have put together a tremendous record, too. Their dual meet record is 29-1 and they have won the last three SEC titles and have two NCAA Championships and one runnerup finish at Auburn.
Lauren Duerk, Jana Kolukanova, Jeri Moss and Erin Volcan have a chance to graduate as the moss successful senior class in AU history.