Auburn sprinter Marcelo Chierighini successfully defended his 100 freestyle title at the SEC Championships. (Photo by Janna Schulze)
In the last couple of days I have read some message board comments lamenting how Auburn’s Swimming and Diving Team is now going down hill after the men’s second place finish to Fla. Saturday night in the SEC Championships.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In 11 of the last 12 seasons, Auburn and Florida have finished first and second in Swimming and Diving in the South Eastern Conference … with the Gators chasing the Tigers each year. This year they finally caught Auburn.
However, the overall title was not gained by winning individual championships, that honor still belongs to the Tigers. Auburn won five of six major titles. In addition junior Marcelo Chierighini was declared the SEC Swimmer of the Year.
The Gators got by Auburn by scoring points with finishers who didn’t win titles. Points are awarded in descending order from the top to the bottom, and the Gators had more third and fourth tier athletes to finish events – thereby swelling their points total.
It was still an awesome performance by the Tigers and one of the stronger finishes in the history of SEC championships. Even though the spectacular streak of 16 consecutive championships came to an end, the Auburn men won 10 of the 21 individual events including four relays during the five-day meet.
It marked the most event victories for the Tigers at an SEC meet since winning 10 titles at the 2010 SEC Championships.
The leaders for Auburn were Chierighini and senior Kyle Owens, who won the 200 backstroke and personally accounted for 91 team points, the most of any swimmer at the SEC Championships.
Head Coach Brett Hawke said, “It has been an incredible streak which I was a part of as an athlete or coach for nine years, so I understand how hard it has been to maintain. It’s disappointing, but I am very encouraged at how fast we swam this meet.”
Hawke added, “This meet will fuel us moving forward, and we will continue to work tirelessly to represent Auburn at the highest level. We have a month to improve and hopefully we can build off our fast times this meet to swim even faster at the NCAAs.”
Yes the streak has ended but the excellence continues.
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