Emotions Running High in Marsh's Final Meet

Men's and women's swimming head coach David Marsh and swimmer James Wike discuss the emotions of Marsh's final meet as Auburn's head coach.

Auburn, Ala.--The David Marsh Era comes to an end on Saturday in the University Aquatic Center in Minneapolis, Minn., the same pool where the magical run of NCAA championships began 10 years ago.

Marsh's first national championship team was the men's 1997 squad. Since then the men have won five more, including the last four, while the women have won five of the last six, including the 2007 championship. During Marsh's 17-year tenure as the head coach at Auburn his Tigers have won 11 national titles and 17 SEC titles.

"For me personally it's a lot of emotions together because this is the same pool where we won our first championship," Marsh explains. "The fact that Brett Hawke is on the staff and he was kind of the catalyst that year just makes it all the more enjoyable.

"What's also enjoyable for me is that I really like this group of people that we have on this team," he adds. "We have a lot people who are good people who have worked hard to come together from all over the country and all over the world to form a team. Last year we only really formed a team atmosphere at the very end of the year. I think the way this team has come together, they're going to be real excited celebrating together--not the championship, just the event together.

"When you find guys that are enjoying the process, not only the outcome, it ends up being a fun thing," he continues. "I'm looking forward it. Of course I have mixed emotions in every regard with not being here in the future and not being here physically in this position. As I told the women last week, I can't imagine that I won't be there in an emotional sense from now on. Auburn is the place I've grown up and the place I developed in so many ways, my person. I'm staying tuned into it but at the same time I'll take on this new challenge."

Marsh announced last October that 2006-2007 would be his last season at Auburn. He will take over as the director of the Mecklenburg Aquatic Club and head coach of the elite team designed to develop Olympic-caliber swimmers for the United States.

As a coach at his alma mater Marsh has enjoyed one of the greatest dynasties in collegiate sports history.

Senior swimmer James Wike, who has battled through severe back problems since November, hopes to send Marsh off just as the women did last week in Minneapolis--with a national championship.

"Emotions are running high right now," Wike explains. "For the most part our team is very excited. The past week and a half is really coming together and everybody is getting into their groove and the big-meet kind of attitude. We're just real excited to get in the water on Thursday morning and start this thing off right. Definitely we want to send David off in style. The women came through and did that and I don't think we're ready to let the women out-do us right now so we're going to be out there to show that we're going to do the same.

"I think it gets harder to win every year," Wike adds. "When you're consistently winning everyone is gunning for you that much more and you're got that much more on your back. There's plenty of pressure. We're trying not to see that pressure. We're trying to brush that off, get past that pressure and swim the way we swim and not worry about anything else. But in the back of our minds, yeah, there is a little pressure to send David off the right way, the way he deserves and the way we've worked for all year."

The three-day championships begin Thursday at noon, CDT. Prelims will be at noon each day and the finals will be at 7 p.m.

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