Tigers Repeat As SEC Champs and Win Hardware

The men's team completed a dominating performance at the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships with a big finish and the women had plenty of excitement, too.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn men's swimmers and divers all but assured themselves they would win a 13th straight SEC Swimming and Diving Championship prior to Saturday night's finals. As expected, the Tigers won with plenty of room to spare.

While the men's team scored 880.5 points to outdistance runnerup Florida's 626 total, the drama was in the women's competition as the Tigers tried to win their fifth league title in the past six years, this time as an underdog.

The Auburn women, who had moved up from third to second on Friday with a terrific set of swims, moved into first place by a half point over Florida midway through the action on Saturday night at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center to the delight of a packed house. However, number one ranked Georgia and No. 5 Florida kept the pressure on the Tigers with strong performances.

The Tigers finished second as the Gators recaptured the lead for a narrow win while Georgia finished third with the Auburn women setting an SEC record in the final event, the 400 freestyle relay, to pull ahead of the Bulldogs.

The Tigers racked up on the awards stand with Matt Targett being named the SEC Men's Swimmer of the Year and won the award as the leading scorer.

Targett competed in three individual events and set an SEC record in each one. He competed on four relay teams and each won set an SEC record so he competed in seven events and and won each time.

Targett said he was most proud of the relay victories. "It's more of a team effort," he said. "It means more than individual accomplishments. I am really happy to do it with my closest friends."

Jeff Shaffer of Auburn was named SEC Men's Diving Coach of the Year and Dan Mazzafero was the men's co-diver of the year.

Richard Quick and interim head coach Brett Hawke were named the SEC Men's Coach of the Year. The men's team was so strong they had the third largest winning margin in SEC meet history and had enough points to win the competition after two events on the final night of competition.

Quick, who is battling inoperable brain cancer, was named SEC Women's Coach of the Year along with his co-head coach Dorsey Tierney-Walker. Quick has turned the day to day operations with the men's and women's team over to Hawke and Tierney-Walker.

Ava Ohlgren tied for the high point scorer in the women's competition.

The Auburn men went into the meet as the favorites being ranked fifth nationally ahead of Florida at eighth and Tennessee at 10th.

The final scoring in the men's meet ended with the Tigers finishing with 880.5 points followed by Florida at 626, Tennessee at 584, Georgia at 435.5, Alabama at 314, LSU 303, Kentucky 277 and South Carolina 174.

Targett admitted he was nervous going into his first meet as head coach of the Tigers, but said the swimmers and divers competed so hard and so well that it took the pressure off.

Quick, who made appearances at the meet but left the coaching to Hawke and Tierney-Walker, had a major role in Auburn's championship. Hawke said he gives a lot of the credit for the team's success to the ill head coach.

He also gave a lot of credit to Targett. "He was tremendous this meet and is having a tremendous season," Hawke said.

The Auburn men take their traditional plunge in the pool after winning an SEC title. This was its 13th straight SEC men's crown.

The Auburn women's team came into the meet ranked sixth with Georgia first, Florida fifth and Tennessee seventh.

The final scoring for the women had Florida in first with 744 points, Auburn scored 730.5 and Georgia was third with 725.

"I was so proud of how hard our team competed," Tierney-Walker said. "I think we learned a lot about ourselves as a team this week. We had a great day on Friday and a great qualifying round on Saturday morning and gave ourselves a chance to win the championship. We are looking forward to facing Florida and Georgia again at the NCAA meet."

The meet could have turned out differently if Auburn freshman Micah Lawrence had not been disqualified in the 200 breaststroke prelims on Saturday morning. She had the third fastest time in the race, but a judge ruled she had a stroke form violation, much to the dismay of the Auburn staff who did not agree.

Tennessee was fourth in the women's competition with 394.5 points followed by Arkansas with 299, Alabama with 244, South Carolina 225, LSU 187, Kentucky 192 and Vanderbilt 74.

The action started with the 1650 freestyle (mile) and the Auburn women took third (Maggie Bird), fifth (Chelsea Haser) and Micah Martindale finished 10th for the Tigers. With three scorers in the event, the Tigers cut Florida's lead from 566 to 563 while Georgia lost five points to the Tigers with its total of 530.5.

Florida responded on the next event with a one-two-three sweep in the 200 backstroke as junior Gemma Spofforth saw an NCAA record time of 1:48.34 for the Gators. The Tigers took fifth with sophomore Erica Messiner, sixth with senior Julianne McLane and eighth with senior Emile Ewing.

The backstroke stretched Florida's lead to 625 to 609.5 with Georgia back at 563 points.

The Tigers were expected to make a move in the next event, the 100 freestyle, and took the lead over the Gators who had just one swimmer in the A finals. She finished fifth while Auburn freshman Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace was second and sophomore Caitlin Geary took third. The Tigers also got an eighth place finish from junior Melissa Marik.

Georgia won the A race and the consolation final. After the event the Tigers had 653.5 points to 653 for Florida and 619 for UGA.

On the next event, Georgia finished two-three in the 200-yard breaststroke to make a move while Auburn didn't have a swimmer in the A finals. Sophomore Melanie Roberts won the consolation final for the Tigers, timing in a personal-record 2:12.16. Sophomore Josefin Wede (2:15.71) placed fourth in the consolation as Auburn kept a slim lead of 667.5 to 664 for the Gators and 654 for UGA.

Auburn's lead disappeared in the next event. In the 200 butterfly Florida's Jemma Lowe set an SEC record and UF added fourth and sixth places finishes. Ava Ohlgren took second for the Tigers, but Auburn fell to third with 690.5 points with Georgia in second at 691 and Florida first with 712.

Despite the strong finish with Ohlgren, Vanderpool-Wallace, Melissa Marik and Geary winning the 400 freestyle relay in an SEC record time of 3:12.00, the only way Florida was going to lose was to get disqualified in the event, which didn't happen.

For the men, the Auburn sprinters showed their dominance again in the 100 freestyle as Targett led a one two sweep with an SEC record time of 41.55. Teammate Gideon Louw was second in 41.97 and Jakob Andkjaer took third in 42.36.

One of the top swims for the Tigers came in the 200 breaststroke as sophomore Adam Klein finished second and qualified for the NCAA meet with a time of 1:53.84.

Mazzaferro repeated as SEC platform diving champion, scoring an SEC-record total of 487.90 points to edge his freshman team Kelly Marx, who finished second.

The Tigers wrapped up the meet in style by setting an NCAA record in the 400 freestyle relay with the foursome Andkjaer, Louw, Kholton Norys and Targett setting an U.S. Open record, too.

"This is a good way to get ready for the NCAA Championships," Hawke said. "I liked the way we competed."

SEC Championship Notes:

NCAA Records:

*Women's 200 Backstroke – Gemma Spofforth, Florida 1:48.34; Old record: 1:49.52, Natalie Coughlin, California, 2002

*Men's 200 Breaststroke – Neil Versfeld, Georgia – 1:52.07; Old record: 1:52.62, Brendan Hansen, Texas, 2003

*Men's 400 Free Relay – Auburn – 2:46.03; Old record: 2:46.56, Auburn, 2007

U.S. Open Records:

*Women's 200 Backstroke – Gemma Spofforth, Florida – 1:48.34; Old record: 1:49.52, Natalie Coughlin, California, 2002

*Men's 400 Free Relay – Auburn – 2:46.03; Old record: 2:46.56, Auburn, 2007

SEC Records:

*Women's 200 Backstroke – Gemma Spofforth, Florida – 1:48.34; Old record: 1:50.56, Gemma Spofforth, Florida, 2008

*Men's 200 Butterfly – Mark Dylla, Georgia – 1:41.61; Old record: 1:42.23, Mark Dylla, Georgia, 2008

*Men's 100 Freestyle – Matt Targett, Auburn – 41.55; Old record: 41.78, Cesar Cielo, Auburn, 2008

*Men's 200 Breaststroke – Neil Versfeld, Georgia – 1:52.07; Old record: 1:54.16, Vlad Polyakov, Alabama, 2006

*Women's 200 Butterfly – Jemma Lowe, Florida – 1:52.53; Old record: 1:53.51, Mary DeScenza, Georgia, 2005

*Men's Platform Diving – Daniel Mazzaferro, Auburn – 487.90; Old record: 444.65, Daniel Mazzaferro, Auburn, 2008

*Men's 400 Free Relay – Auburn – 2:46.03 Old record: 2:50.49, Auburn, 2008

*Women's 400 Free Relay – Auburn – 3:12.00; Old record: 3:13.09, Auburn, 2008

Pool Records:

*Women's 200 Backstroke – Gemma Spofforth, Florida – 1:48.34; Old record: 1:50.86, Natalie Coughlin, California, 2003

*Men's 200 Butterfly – Mark Dylla, Georgia – 1:41.61; Old record: 1:43.09, Stefan Gherghel, Alabama, 2003

*Men's 200 Backstroke – Rexfor Tullius – 1:39.88; Old record: 1:41.10, Tate Blahnik, Stanford, 1998

*Men's 100 Freestyle – Matt Targett, Auburn – 41.55; Old record: 42.12, Lars Frolander, SMU, 1998

*Men's 200 Breaststroke – Neil Versfeld, Georgia – 1:52.07; Old record: 1:55.02, Tom Wilkens, Stanford, 1998

*Men's 400 Free Relay – Auburn – 2:46.03; Old record: 2:51.37, Stanford, 1998

*Women's 400 Free Relay – Auburn – 3:12.00 Old record: 3:14.15, Auburn, 2003

Winners By School

Alabama (3) – Aaron Fleshner, Men's 1-Meter Diving; Carrie Dragland, Women's 3-Meter Diving; Elizabeth Hughes, Women's Platform Diving

Arkansas (1) – Yi-Ting Siow, Women's 200 Breaststroke

Auburn (17) – Ava Ohlgren, Women's 200 IM, Women's 400 IM; Matt Targett, Men's 50 Freestyle, Men's 100 Freestyle, Men's 100 Butterfly; Daniel Mazzaferro, Men's 3-Meter Diving, Men's Platform Diving; Caitlin Geary, Women's 200 Freestyle; Paschal Wollach, Men's 100 Backstroke; Men's 200 Freestyle Relay; Men's 400 Freestyle Relay; Men's 800 Freestyle Relay; Men's 200 Medley Relay; Men's 400 Medley Relay; Women's 400 Freestyle Relay; Women's 800 Freestyle Relay; Women's 400 Medley Relay

Florida (10) – Bradley Ally, Men's 200 IM, Men's 400 IM; Jemma Lowe, Women's 100 Butterfly, Women's 200 Butterfly; Shaune Fraser, Men's 200 Freestyle; Gemma Spofforth, Women's 100 Backstroke, Women's 200 Backstroke; Rexfor Tullius, Men's 200 Backstroke; Women's 200 Freestyle Relay; Women's 200 Medley Relay

Georgia (9) – Troyden Prinsloo, Men's 500 Freestyle, Men's 1650 Freestyle; Allison Schmitt, Women's 500 Freestyle; Anne-Marie Botek, Women's 50 Freestyle; Neil Versfeld, Men's 100 Breaststroke, Men's 200 Breaststroke; Wendy Trott, Women's 1650 Freestyle; Morgan Scroggy, Women's 100 Freestyle; Mark Dylla, Men's 200 Butterfly

South Carolina (1) – Taryn Zack, Women's 1-Meter Diving

Tennessee (2) – Michelle King, Women's 50 Freestyle; Jamie Saffer, Women's 100 Breaststroke

Multiple Individual Winners (Complete Meet) Matt Targett, Auburn (3) – Men's 50 Freestyle, Men's 100 Freestyle, Men's 100 Butterfly Bradley Alley, Florida (2) – Men's 200 IM, Men's 400 IM Jemma Lowe, Florida (2) – Women's 100 Butterfly, Women's 200 Butterfly Ava Ohlgren, Auburn (2) – Women's 200 IM, Women's 400 IM Daniel Mazzaferro, Auburn (2) – Men's 3-Meter Diving; Men's Platform Diving Troyden Prinsloo, Georgia (2) – Men's 500 Freestyle, Men's 1650 Freestyle Gemma Spofforth, Florida (2) – Women's 100 Backstroke, Women's 200 Backstroke Neil Versfeld, Georgia (2) – Men's 100 Breaststroke, Men's 200 Breaststroke

Commissioner's Trophy Individual Rankings Men

1. Matt Targett, Auburn – 60 points

2. Daniel Mazzaferro, Auburn – 56.5 points

3. Aaron Fleshner, Alabama – 52 points

4. Kelly Marx, Auburn – 50.5 points

5. Omar Pinzon, Florida – 50 points


1. Ava Ohlgren, Auburn – 57 points

Gemma Spofforth, Florida – 57 points

3. Morgan Scroggy, Georgia – 52 points

4. Allison Schmitt, Georgia – 51 points

Caitlin Geary, Auburn – 51 points


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