The Tigers head into the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships ranked No. 1 in the CSCAA Dual Meet Poll, but are predicted to finish in fourth behind Stanford, California and Arizona accord to the official NCAA psyche sheet.
"You have to play on that day, and I think that in many ways in our case, we have the players and we have the ability," head coach David Marsh says of the psyche sheet. "So does Stanford and probably so does Berkley (Cal). Arizona has a small team, but they're a stacked team within the nine competitors that they have."
The psyche sheet does not include diving, which the Tigers have racked up points in recent years. Junior Steven Segerlin was runner-up last year in the platform competition and will look to win the title this time, which would make Auburn the first school to win that competition in four straight championships.
"He has terrific ability and should do quite well," Marsh says of Segerlin. "We only have one diver, but he's a good diver, so we should be able to get some points from him.
Coach David Marsh has led the Auburn men's and women's teams to a combined nine NCAA Championships.
"Our strengths in the swimming events are the sprint freestyles, the IM (individual medley) and we have a pretty good backstroke and butterfly combination," Marsh says. "Breaststroke has come around this year in particular with Eric (Shanteau) in 200 and James Wike in the 100. That's helped quite a bit."
For Shanteau and three other seniors, George Bovell, Kurt Cady and Doug Van Wie, the NCAA Championships will be an opportunity for them to end their collegiate careers as champions, the same way they started their careers.
"When David was recruiting me back when I was in high school, a big thing that I wanted to do was to compete for a national title," Shanteau says. "When I say a national title I mean a single national title. When I came into college it was kind of my goal to be a part of one winning team.
"After my freshman year when I won the first time, it was like, "All right, we can do this and we want to do it again,'" he adds. "It kind of got the ball rolling. That was a big part of the reason why we have been so successful is just having a good start freshman year."
The men's team won national championships in 1997, 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2005 and will look to duplicate the results of the women's team, which came from 53 points behind to start the final day last weekend to win its fourth national title in five years.
Marsh says that his men's team will have to get the job done the opposite way than the women did if they hope to bring home the championship.
"The most points are available on Friday and Saturday, but we have two real strong events the first day," he notes. "The 50 free and the 200 individual medley should be very strong for us. We really need to get off to a good start.
"One deficiency that this team has had this year is that they tend to lay back a little bit early in meets and come on extremely strong in the end," Marsh adds. "Our women's team did that last weekend. We won't have that option to do that here. They're going to have to go in from the get go and get things going."
Prelims start at 11 a.m. CST on Thursday and the finals begin at 6 p.m. CST.
"I think if we have a terrific meet, we should be hard to beat," Marsh says.