With a vocal home crowd cheering on the Tigers at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center, Margaret Hoelzer, Heather Kemp, Kirsty Coventry and Maggie Bowen set the 800 freestyle record with a time of 7:01.00, smashing the old mark of 7:04.06. "I was a little nervous, which is weird because I normally do not get nervous," Hoelzer said. "But I had three great teammates to look to for support. This is so much more exciting than winning an individual event."
Auburn coach David Marsh said he is very excited about the impressive opening night swims. "It's great to get the records and it has really ignited our team," he said. "Winning the 200 medley relay was a pleasant surprise. I'm speechless about the 800 relay. Heather Kemp was a key leg."
Although both Auburn teams are in second place after the first of what will be four days of competition, they are in great position to sweep both titles for the first time in school history. South Carolina leads the women's competition with 92 points and is followed by Auburn 87, Alabama 83, Tennessee 79, Georgia 75, LSU 70, Florida 64, Arkansas 62 and Kentucky 51.
The six-time defending champion Auburn men's team scored 95 points, one off the pace set by Florida. Tennessee is third with 87 and is followed by Georgia with 78, Alabama at 75, South Carolina at 68, LSU 61 and Kentucky with 45. Like the women, the Auburn men women the 200 medley relay.
The men's 200 medley relay team of Derek Gibb, Pat Calhoun, Fred Bousquet and Ryan Wochomurka took first place in 1:26.52, which also gives them an NCAA automatic qualifying time. "We have never won this event in the four years that I've been here and it feels amazing to do it in my home pool," said Calhoun, who is Auburn's co-captain. "Getting the crowd going and winning by one one-hundredth of a second, we couldn't ask for a better race."
Florida set an SEC record in winning the men's 800 relay in a time of 6:20.14. Auburn's team of B.J. Jones, Clay Kirkland, Matt Kidd and George Bovell took second in 6:21.42.
Caesar Garcia took fifth place for the Auburn men in the one-meter springboard competition with a personal-best score of 334.25. Zach Wilcox of Florida finished with a score of 345.25.
Day two of the action starts at 10:30 a.m. at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center on the Auburn campus.