The men's swimming and diving championships concluded Saturday night with Auburn finishing in sixth. California took the title, completing the sweep of both the men and women's championships. The highlights of the night for Auburn came from a record-breaking swim by Zane Grothe in the 1,650-meter freestyle and Marcelo Chierighini taking second in the 100m free.
Grothe broke the Auburn record -- his own -- with a time of 14:37.59, which was almost 17 seconds faster than his seeded time, to take fourth place. His fourth-place finish is also the best ever by an Auburn swimmer at the NCAA Championships. Grothe is just a sophomore, so expect even bigger things from him in the next two years.
Max Murphy swam in 200m backstroke final for the Tigers and finished in eighth place with a time of 1:44.19. His race was two seconds slower than his prelim time, which was a career best. Murphy is a senior, so it was good to see him finish his career with a race that earned him an All-American honor.
Marcelo Chierighini is another sophomore for Auburn who came up big on the final night of the meet. Chierighini took second in the 100m free with a time of 42.34. James Feigen, a senior from Texas, blew everyone out of the water by beating Cheirighini by 0.39 seconds, a rather large margin in the event. Chierighini will be another swimmer in orange and blue to keep an eye on in the coming years.
Auburn finished the meet strong by tying California for second in the 400m free relay with a time of 2:50.34. Chierighini actually swam his leg of the race faster than his 100m free final at 42.00. While sixth place might sound like a disappointment to the casual Auburn fan, it is still something to be proud of given the competition. Auburn has now finished in the top six at the NCAA Championships for 20 consecutive years. The Tigers did leave a few points in the pool, but it was still a solid performance overall. Texas, Stanford, Arizona, and Michigan closed out the top five in the team competition. Florida and Georgia finished eighth and 11th, respectively, to round out the top SEC schools.
Many of Auburn's swimmers are now turning their attention to Olympic trials. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, James Disney-May, and former swimmer Adam Brown have already qualified for their respective countries. Laure Manaudou, who did not swim for Auburn but trains with Brett Hawke, also qualified to swim for France.