AUBURN, Alabama, January 10. THE Auburn swimming & diving teams remained unbeaten in dual meet competition this season with a pair of victories over the visiting Texas Longhorns on Thursday afternoon at the James E. Martin Aquatic Center.
Auburn's men earned a 166-132 win to move to 4-0 on the season, and the Tiger women posted a 153-145 win to remain unbeaten at 5-0 this year.
“I'm really happy,” Auburn head coach Brett Hawke said. “There's a long history and a long tradition here with Texas and Auburn, and it's always great to get a win against a very accomplished team. I thought our team stood up and performed well as a unit. I was really happy with the way they backed up races, and it sets us up well going into championship season.
“I thought Katie Gardocki swam really strong today. She's been dealing with some injuries over the past couple of weeks, and she came out and performed really well today. She was a standout. And we got great leadership from Kyle Owens, our captain on the men's side.”
Auburn won a total of 23 events on the day, including 11 of 16 men's events and 12 of 16 on the women's side. It gave the Auburn women their second straight win over Texas and the fifth in seven all-time meetings with the Longhorns. On the men's side, Auburn improved to 13-11 all-time against Texas, rebounding from a home loss to the Longhorns last season.
Seniors Kyle Owens and Stuart Ferguson and junior Marcelo Chierighini led the way for the Auburn men, earning victories in all four of their respective events. The trio teamed up in the meet's opening race as Owens, Ferguson, Chierighini and James Disney-May sprinted to a dominating win in the 200 medley relay, posting a 1:27.41 to win by more than five seconds. And despite the Tigers swimming exhibition in the final relay of the day, the 200 free relay team of TJ Leon, Ferguson, Disney-May and Chierighini posted a 1:19.99 to win the race as Chierighini's anchor split of 19.28 was nearly a second faster than any other competitor.
In the individual events, Owens was 3-for-3 with wins in the 100 backstroke (47.39), 200 backstroke (1:47.29) and 200 individual medley (1:49.94). Chierighini won both of his individual races as well, recording an outstanding in-season 19.87 to run away with the 50 free and a 43.57 to claim the 100 free. Ferguson's 4-for-4 day included wins in both the 100 breaststroke (55.15) and 200 breaststroke (2:01.80).
Auburn's divers provided the other men's victories. Sophomore Fraser McKean kicked off the meet with a winning performance on the 1-meter springboard, scoring 362.55 to lead a sweep of the top two spots along with junior John Santeiu. Later in the meet, Santeiu came back to claim victory on the 3-meter board with a 364.35; McKean took second in the event. Sophomore Michael Beran had a personal-best score with a 303.23 on the 1-meter board, where he finished fourth.
“We had some good dives,” Auburn diving coach Jeff Shaffer said,” but we still had a few mental mistakes that we need to work through to prepare for A&M on Saturday and Florida on the 26th. Then we need to really set our sights on being consistent as we head toward the SEC Championships.”
On the women's side, senior Katie Gardocki put together an unbeaten day with three individual victories in the distance freestyle events. She opened the individual swimming portion of the meet with a major comeback in the 1,000 free, overcoming nearly a full-second deficit and clocking a 26.72 split over the final 50 yards for a winning time of 9:45.06. One event later, she came right back to post a 1:48.06 and win the 200 free, then another comeback in the 500 free gave her a win in 4:49.58.
Senior Hannah Riordan also picked up three wins on the day. The team of Emily Bos, Micah Lawrence, Olivia Scott and Riordan gave the Tigers an early lead with a win in the 200 medley relay in 1:39.07. Riordan then eked out a win in the 50 free, touching in 22.85 – just ahead of Texas' Ellen Lobb in 22.86 – and then came back right after the diving break to lead an Auburn sweep in the 100 free with a 49.41. Scott took second in the race and Haley Krakoski was third.
Freshman Caitlyn Forman earned her second collegiate victory – her first in the 200 back – with a 1:58.77, reaching for the wall just ahead of Texas' Sarah Denninghoff, and junior transfer Aubrey Peacock picked up her first individual Auburn win with a 54.68.
Scott continued her mastery of the 100 butterfly with a winning time of 53.35, and Sarah Peterson earned a win in the 200 fly with a 1:59.63.
Sophomore Cinzia Calabretta picked up a pair of runner-up finishes in the women's diving events, scoring 304.50 on the 3-meter board and 280.43 in the 1-meter event. Shanna Schuelein took third place in both events.
“Cinzia and Shanna did a really nice job,” Shaffer said. “Shanna had one weak dive; otherwise, she's in a position to win the event. Cinzia's scores were really good – anytime you go over 300 on 3-meter, that's a good score. I think we're getting better, and that's what it's all about at this time of the year – learning how to compete.”
It will be a quick turnaround for the Tigers as they hit the road early Friday morning to travel to College Station, Texas, for a dual meet against new SEC foe Texas A&M at 10 a.m. Saturday.
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