AU Women's Swimming Aiming For Championship

College Station, Texas–The 2009 Women's Swimming and Diving National Championships get underway on Thursday in on the Texas A&M campus.

Auburn, after finishing second to Florida at the SEC championships, is ranked sixth in the country. The Gators are fifth preceded by defending NCAA champion Arizona at No. 4. Texas is third, Georgia is second and Stanford is the No. 1 team in the country. Host school Texas A&M is ranked eighth.

Auburn won the women's national championship in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007, but the pool has become more competitive in recent years.

"It's exciting for our sport," Auburn women's coach Dorsey Tierney-Walker says. "In the women's meet in particular, there is so much parity across the board. Arizona is the defending champion and a very, very strong this year in particular with their depth in their relays. California-Berkley has a very strong team this year. Stanford, Georgia, Florida, Texas... It's a really been excited over the last 10 years watching the growth of women's swimming in college."

Even with a tough field, the Tigers' goal is the same.

"Our goal coming into this week is to compete for a national championship and achieve as many best times as possible," Tierney-Walker notes. "It's obviously been a bit of an interesting year for this team. I think at conference they demonstrated that they're certainly capable of competing at the highest level. We're carrying the momentum into here and hoping for even better. It should be a fun weekend.

"Every swimmer at this meet is important," she adds. "I would say the relays in particular will indicate our higher level of success, I guess you could say. That's something that is consistent every year. Relays at this meet are everything. They're double points."

Since finishing second at the SEC's Feb. 18-21, Tierney-Walker says the Tigers have been doing what it takes to get ready for this weekend.

"This is the best we've trained all year," she states. "We're more focused and paying more attention to detail. We're pretty solid across the board in all of our races.

"We're a fairly balanced team from sprints and middle distance," she adds. "Really for us it's looking for consistency across the board in all of the individuals swimmers."

The final day of competition is on Saturday.

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