Auburn finished Thursday night's competition with 187 points. Arizona, last year's runnerup, is in second with 121 followed by No. 2 ranked Texas with 107, Northwestern and Florida with 106 and number one ranked Stanford is sixth with 100 points.
Auburn's speed racked up 70 points in one event as Cielo swam a time of 18.69 to win the 50 freestyle and earn 20 points while Matt Targett tied for second in 19:08. Bryan Lundquist finished eighth and Jacob Andkjaer won the consolation final to take ninth place.
Cielo broke the NCAA and U.S. Open records set in 2005 by former Tiger star Fred Bousquet by swimming the fastest 50 yards in history. Counting two swims in a relay and the 50 prelims he swam under the old record pace four times on Thursday.
"It feels great," said Cielo. "Before today I was just a guy who was trying to break 19 seconds, and I broke it four times. It feels great to break Fred's time, and be the fastest guy in the NCAA. That was one of my dreams, and I'm very happy to reach this level of swimming."
The Tigers started the evening with a terrific swim as sprinters Cielo, Targett, Andkjaer and Scott Goodrich swam an NCAA record time of 1:15.56 in the 200 freestyle relay, breaking the old mark of 1:15.78 set by Cal in 2005. Stanford was second in 1:16.57.
Scott Goodrich, Cesar Cielo and Matt Targett (right) celebrate a record-setting time in the 200 freestyle relay.
"The sprinters were nothing short of amazing," said Auburn coach David Marsh, whose team is going for its fifth straight NCAA title and seventh overall in Marsh's final season as head coach of the Tigers. "I don't use that word very often when I'm coaching, but that was an exhibition I'd like to say has never been seen at the NCAA level. But since all but Lundquist are underclassmen, I surely hope we'll see more of this for the next few years to come.
"I'm really pleased not only with Cesar's performance as the fastest human to ever perform in swimming now, but I'm also just as excited to see Bryan Lundquist and Scott Goodrich--guys who weren't the top recruits in the nation, now exerting themselves as the top echelon of sprinters not only in the NCAA but also in the world."
The Auburn divers produced 29 points on Thursday night as senior Steve Segerlin finished third in the one-meter springboard for a second straight season with 371.40 points while freshman Kelly Marx finished sixth with a record score of 345.70
"What an awesome way to start," said diving coach Jeff Shaffer. "I told the guys, our events go ‘good, better, best', and if we can improve on today through Friday and Saturday, what a contribution to the team race we would make. I'm so excited for Kelly--what a great job by a freshman to step up. For Steve to come back and get another third-place performance on one-meter is awesome. I couldn't be prouder."
Auburn wrapped up the evening with a third place finish in the 400 medley relay for 32 points in an event that Stanford did not score in after being disqualified. Juniors Scott Goodrich, David Maras and Alex Puninski and Cielo finished a little more than two seconds off the pace set by Northwestern.