Last night, the Auburn men's swimming and diving team won it's sixteenth (16th!) consecutive SEC Championship. To put that in perspective, Auburn has been the reigning SEC Champion since I was six-years-old. Six! Auburn freshmen were two-year-olds. As much as I remind myself of this impressive stat, I still can't seem to wrap my head around it. Such dominance in the SEC has only been matched, and bettered, by the University of Florida's volleyball team's 18 SEC title streak from 1991-2008. But last night's win to extend the streak did not come easy; Florida kept the pressure on Auburn until the final race.
The first event of the night was the 1650 free, an event in which Auburn has historically struggled. Both the men and women, however, had strong showings this year. Katie Gardocki placed third with a time 16:06.14 and Zane Grothe finished second with an 'A' cut time of 14:50.86. In the next event, the 200 back stroke, Emily Bos finished sixth for the Tigers. Kyle Owens and Max Murphy provided a big finish for Auburn with a 1-2 finish in the same event. Haley Krakoski finished eighth for the women in the 100 free with a time of 49.64.
The men blew the competition open during the the 100 free final with a 1-3-5-7-8 finish. Marcelo Chierighini finished first for Auburn with a time of 42.45. There were only three swimmers in the pool who did not have an AU on their cap. Auburn is traditionally a sprint school and the men lived up to that reputation on Saturday. The men scored 72.5 points on the event and increased their lead to 97.5 points over Florida.
Freshman Sarah Peterson placed eighth in the 200 breast with a time of 2:13.11. Stuart Ferguson finished first in the 200 breast prelims but was unable to retain that title in the finals as he finished fifth. The men and women did not have a swimmer in the 200 fly finals. Florida finished 1-2-4 in the men's 200 fly final cutting the Auburn lead to just 24.5 points heading into the final event.
Vennie Dantin had another great day for the Tigers as she finished seven points shy of first place in platform diving. Dantin held the lead going into the final dive, but Tennessee's Victoria Lamp nailed her final dive to take the title. Dantin scored a 328.50 and Anna Aguero finished fourth with a 271.15. These senior divers will be sorely missed next year!
It all came down to the final event of the night, the 400 free relay. Both of Auburn's teams were seeded first going into the final. The ladies redeemed themselves of their DQ Friday night and finished first with an 'A' cut time of 3:15.62. Members of the relay included Arianna Vanderpool Wallace, Hannah Riordan, Megan Fonteno, and Haley Krakoski. Vanderpool Wallace swam her leg of the race with a time of 46.61 which is 0.2 seconds faster than her NCAA record. Congratulations, Arianna! The women finished the meet in fourth place with 509.5 points. As expected by most, the Georgia women were crowned the SEC Champions for the third year in a row (only three? pfft) with a score of 781. Tennessee finished second with a score of 629.5 and Florida finished third with a score of 566. Other team scores: LSU (347), Arkansas (267), Alabama (249), South Carolina (237), Kentucky (128) and Vanderbilt (78).
The men only needed to successfully complete the 400 relay in order to win the meet, but instead they finished as champions do -- they took first in the relay with a time of 2:51.66. Members of the relay include Drew Mordov, James Disney-May, Kyle Owens, and Marcelo Chierighini. Auburn finished the meet with 730 points and Florida finished with 700 points. Other team scores: Georgia (521), Tennessee (459), LSU (426), Alabama (306), Kentucky (246.5), and South Carolina (196).
Now the Tigers will work to bring home yet another NCAA National Championship back home to The Plains. War Eagle!