Marsh Pleased With SEC Day One Results

Knoxville, Tenn.--With just three events contested on the first of four days of competition, the Auburn men are in third place at the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships and the AU women are in fifth place.

Georgia leads the men's competition with 138 points followed by Florida with 124 and Auburn with 123. The Tigers, who are ranked No. 1 nationally, are going for their 10th straight SEC title.

In the women's competition, the No. 1 nationally ranked Tigers have 101 points. Kentucky is in first place with 169 points followed by South Carolina with 121 while No. 1 Georgia and Tennessee are tied for third with 109 points. AU is going for its fourth straight SEC women's title.

The men's team won the 200-yard medley relay in a time of 1:26.33 and got a second place in the three-meter springboard competition from diver Steve Segerlin.

Doug Van Wie, James Wike, Alexei Puninski and Cesar Cielo were the relay winners for the Tigers. Puninski swam the fastest butterfly leg (20.61) to spark Auburn's comeback victory and Cielo finished with a 19.10 freestyle leg to earn the victory by one-hundreth of a second over host Tennessee.

"It was a really exciting race," Cielo said. "We were a little behind after the first two legs, but Alexei did an excellent job in the butterfly to bring us back even. I felt like I did my best and I am very happy. I think this is what we were expecting as the outcome."

Auburn coach David Marsh said he was pleased with the relay performance. "It was good to go out with a win on this first night," he said. "Last year we didn't win any relays the first night and I think the energy was good for the team and program.

"I was especially pleased with Alexei," Marsh said. "He kind of pulled us back into the race and Cesar brought us home and extended into the touch. One one-hundredth of a second isn't even the length of your fingernail, but it makes a big difference in points." Relay wins are worth 52 points while the runnerup scores 44.

Georgia men's coach Jack Bauerle was upbeat with his team's day one performance. "They did a heck of a job. We've got some tough kids, and tough kids can surprise you sometimes. We had some big-time efforts tonight. I'm really proud of them."

Segerlin moved up one spot from his 2005 performance at the SEC meet as he finished second to Chris Colwill of Georgia. Segerlin scored 403.70 to gain 22 points for his team while Colwill scored 26 for Georgia with a total of 419.80.

The men's and women's teams both finished third in the 800 freestyle relays won by the Florida men and Georgia women.

Seniors Doug Van Wie and George Bovell joined freshmen Anthony Fleming and Jakob Andkjaer in the men's 800 freestyle relay. "We had an excellent first and last leg in the men's 800 free relay," Marsh said. "George swam a little bit tentative, but as the meet continues he will get more aggressive and will factor into this meet more substantially. Overall, it was a real good night--not perfect--but better than last year's first day with the two false starts. We just to come back tomorrow (Thursday) and be ready to compete first thing."

The women's 800 free relay of Margo McCawley, Jeri Moss, Emily Kukors and Adrienne Binder posted an NCAA qualifying time of 7:07.79, 17 seconds faster than their previous best this season. Kukors swam the fastest split of the field, 1:45.75.

"Our first two legs, Margo and Jeri, just gave a phenomenal effort, co-head women's coach Dorsey Tierney-Walker said. "Emily to go 1:45 on the third leg. For this time of year and with her focus on NCAAs, I thought that was a great swim. We had Adrienne, a distance swimmer, on the end and for the speed she has I am real pleased with her effort. I thought all in all we were very solid today."

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