Championship Day 3 RecapMarch 17, 2007

The Auburn men's swimming and diving team sent head coach David Marsh out in style, winning its fifth straight national championship and seventh since 1997 Saturday night. The Tigers left little doubt, essentially clinching the team title during Saturday's prelims by advancing 11 swimmers and three divers into the finals while already holding a 102-point lead. Auburn which set five NCAA records during the meet, finished with 566 points, easily outdistancing second-place Stanford, which scored 397 points.

The Tigers' domination was evident based on the awards presented following the meet. Marsh was named NCAA Division I Men's Swimming Coach of the Year, Jeff Shaffer was named NCAA Division I Men's Diving Coach of the Year, Cesar Cielo was the NCAA Division I Men's Swimmer of the Year and Steven Segerlin was named NCAA Division I Men's Diver of the Year.

For Marsh, it was his 12th national championship at Auburn, having won five of the last six on the women's side in addition to his seven titles with the men's team. His 12 combined titles ties him for the most swimming and diving titles ever won by an NCAA head coach, and fittingly, the man he tied, Richard Quick, is the man who will succeed him as head coach at Auburn. He won his sixth NCAA Men's Coach of the Year award and his 10th overall NCAA Coach of the Year honor adding in his four awards on the women's side.

Although Auburn's sprinters grabbed much of the spotlight, it was a total team effort that earned the Tigers the title. Eighteen different individuals combined for 64 All-American honors during the three-day event. The 64 All-American honors was a new school record, while the 18 individuals to be honored was second best in school history.

"This is probably my third, fourth or fifth most talented team," said Marsh. "But we've never had a better meet top to bottom.

"Our team has made this year very special. I really just enjoy this team. There are so many great individuals, and I could go down story by story and tell you how they have gone from rags to riches, including all three of our captains. This group has a lot of depth that involves were they have come from and what they have gone through."

"Words can't express how we feel right now," said senior co-captain John Scott. "To see our team grow from average to where we're at now has been great. Everyone swam their best times and it was just unbelievable. From top to bottom, everyone did great. We were ready for this."

Cielo highlighted the evening by putting his name atop the NCAA record book for the fourth and fifth times during the meet. Having previously set an NCAA record in the 50 free and helping Auburn break the 200 free relay and 200 medley relay records during the two previous nights, Cielo started his evening by setting a new NCAA record in the 100 free with a winning time of 41.17 seconds. He broke the old mark of 41.49 set by Duje Draganja of California in 2005 while becoming only the second Auburn swimmer to win the 100 free, joining Rowdy Gaines, who won the event in 1980 and 1981. He also became the first Tiger ever to win the 50 free and 100 free at the same NCAA meet.

Matt Targett finished sixth in the 100 free in 42.71 seconds, while Jakob Andkjaer won the consolation final in 42.67 seconds to place ninth overall. Bryan Lundquist placed 13th in 43.01 seconds and Scott Goodrich finished 16th in 43.87.

"I'm really proud of myself," said Cielo. "I'm really happy with my results. I wasn't really expecting to go that fast. I'm glad I'm still a sophomore and have two years to go, and hopefully I'll go faster next year."

Cielo also helped Auburn wrap up the meet by winning the 400 free relay with yet another NCAA record. The group of Andkjaer, Cielo, Targett and Lundquist sped to a time of 2:46.56, smashing the previous mark of 2:47.70 set by California in 2005.

Steven Segerlin

Segerlin capped a terrific collegiate career by winning his second diving title of the meet and third of his career, defending his title in the platform competition. Segerlin, who finished his Auburn career with 11 All-American honors, recorded a score of 414.90 to edge Arizona State's Michele Benedetti by less than three points.

"I was a little shook up after I missed my second and third dives," said Segerlin. "But Jeff Shaffer worked with me over the summer to increase my degree of difficulty. I knew if I stayed solid in my more difficult dives I could get back in the game, and that's what happened."

"It was a gutty contest that went back and forth," said Shaffer. "He put himself in position in the fourth and fifth rounds with his most difficult dives. He gave himself a chance to win and that's the way it played out."

Two freshmen ready to take the reigns also reached the platform finals, as Kelly Marx finished in sixth place with a score of 352.35 to earn his first All-American honor, while Dan Mazzaferro, who placed ninth in the 3-meter event Friday, finished in eighth place on the platform with a score of 332.05.

"This was an unbelievable performance from everybody," said Shaffer. "All the athletes from the swimming and diving team did great. I couldn't be more proud of Steve. He's had a great career and has raised the level of Auburn diving. And our future is bright with Kelly and Dan."

Scott and Logan Madson were impressive in the 200 fly, both breaking their personal bests for the second time of the day. Scott finished second in 1:43.47, which ranks second in school history, while Madson improved to 1:43.97, finishing in fourth place. Tyler McGill placed 11th by clocking a time of 1:45.04 in the consolation finals.

In the 200 back, James Wike was not able to match his personal best time of 1:41.93 from the prelims, but still finished in sixth place with a time of 1:42.92, bettering his eighth place performance from last year's NCAA meet.

Jon Roberts finished 15th in the 200 breast with a time of 1:57.37, while Sean Osborne placed 16th in 1:58.62.

"This year was a very challenging year," said Marsh. "There were so many things this year that turned us in another direction. So many obstacles came in our way, but the coaching staff and the team members themselves were brilliant."

Auburn will host a celebration for its men's and women's national championship teams Tuesday, March 20, at 6 p.m. at Toomer's Corner.

-Courtesy Auburn