Tigers Going for NCAA Title 'Four-Peat'

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn men's swimming team, which has won every competition it has been involved in since finishing third nationally in 2002, will be going for a fourth consecutive national title this week in Atlanta.

Competition at the NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships will run Thursday morning through Saturday night at the soldout Georgia Tech Aquatics Center in Atlanta, the same facility, converted into an indoor pool, that was the site for the 1996 Olympics competition.

The Tigers will be looking for their sixth overall national title under the direction of Coach David Marsh, who led the Auburn women's team to a thrilling upset victory at last week's NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships in Athens, Ga.

Based on each team's times posted across the country going into the NCAA Championships, the Auuburn men's team is expected to face a major challenge from a trio of Pac-10 schools that are projected to score more points than Auburn. Stanford is considered by many to be the favorite in Atlanta with conference rivals Cal and Arizona having very strong teams, too.

Based on the NCAA pysche sheet, which lists the top times for each competitor, without factoring in diving AU projects to finish fourth, one spot ahead of Michigan.

However, one of Auburn's four seniors who has never lost a dual meet, a conference championship meet or an NCAA meet says he is eager for the challenge.

"Cal and Stanford and those guys rest for their dual meets and put on fast suits for their dual meets," he says. "They beat up on each other out there. Everybody talks that Auburn is down this year. We are just keeping going about our business.

"We know we didn't have a great SEC meet," Kady adds. "We focus solely on the NCAAs. That is the way training is. Who cares who is ranked number one after the dual meet season. You don't get a ring for that. I don't know if it is motivation not being ranked number one, but we know what they are doing and we know what we are doing and that is fine."

Another Auburn senior, 2004 Olympic medal bronze winner and three-time NCAA champion George Bovell, says he likes his team's chances, too.

"I think the last couple of months we have become very close as a team," Bovell says. "When we get up there not only will we be competing for ourselves and our university, we will be competing for our teammates. You know you are going to give 100 percent because you don't want to let your buddies down and I expect them to do the same for me."

All-American Eric Shanteau is expecting to get lots of support from friends and family in Atlanta.

Two other seniors, Doug Van Wie and Eric Shanteau, are expected to help the Tigers make a strong run at a four straight NCAA titles. Van Wie was Auburn's high-point scorer at the SEC Championships in Knoxville, Tenn., an event the Tigers won for the 10th consecutive time. Shanteau, from Parkview High in Lilburn, Ga., is the school record holder in the 400 individual medley and grew up competing at meets at the Georgia Tech Aquatics Center.

Bovell owns the Auburn record for the 200 individual medley and has qualified for All-America status 19 times.

Backstroke star Doug Van Wie will be going for back-to-back-to-back-to-back NCAA team titles.

Van Wie is the fastest 100 backstroker to ever swim for the Tigers and has been part of a winning relay team at the NCAA Championships.

Marsh says he has thoroughly enjoyed coaching his four seniors, who have posted a 31-0 record in dual meets to go with their four SEC titles and three NCAA crowns. "For now it's their time," says Marsh on the eve of the nationals. "It's their time."

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