AUBURN, Alabama, April 2. THE Auburn national champion men's and women's swimming and diving teams have been invited to the White House on Thursday, April 6 to be recognized by President George W. Bush for their 2006 NCAA titles. The visit will mark the second consecutive year for the men's swimming team to be honored at the White House, while it will be the women's first visit.
"Any invitation to the White House is always of the highest honor," Auburn head coach David Marsh said. "This year is even more special because our women's team will get to join the men, who had an extraordinary experience last summer in Washington, D.C."
The women's swimming and diving team claimed its fourth national title in the last five years two weeks ago in Athens, Ga., while the men's program won its fourth consecutive NCAA title and sixth overall in Atlanta last week. Under the direction of Marsh, the men have won NCAA titles in 1997, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, while
the women have captured national championships in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006.
"We look forward to all the activities our student-athletes will get to participate in during their visit, from personally meeting the President of the United States, to the Marine band playing the Auburn fight song," said Marsh. "We are very appreciative for the opportunity to visit the White House. It's a reward to our men and women's team for their continued dedication to Auburn University, the swimming and diving program and it is a testament to their hard work."
The combined national championships marked the third time that Auburn has won both the men's and women's titles in the same year. The programs also both won in 2003 and 2004. Marsh is the only coach in NCAA history to lead a men's and women's program to national championships in the same season.
"It is very exciting that for the second consecutive year, Auburn will have the honor of visiting the White House," Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs said. "The men's program had a great visit last summer and I know they are looking forward to having the women's team join them for such a special occasion this year. Auburn and Auburn people are very proud of the accomplishments of Coach David Marsh and the men's and women's swimming and diving teams."
Rachel Goh (100 backstroke) and Haley Peirsol (1650 freestyle) each won individual national titles for the Auburn women, who overcame a 53-point deficit on the final day of competition. The 18 women competing at the championships collectively earned 54 All-American honors.
Diver Steve Segerlin won an individual title on the 10-meter platform while George Bovell, Bryan Lundquist, Cesar Cielo and Matt Targett combined to claim a NCAA title in the 200 freestyle relay. Overall, the Tigers earned 49 All-American honors from 16 athletes at the championships. The Tiger men's senior class of George Bovell, Kurt Cady, Eric Shanteau and Doug Van Wie accomplished a first at Auburn by concluding their collegiate careers undefeated in every category. The senior class accumulated a 31-0 dual meet record with four Southeastern Conference championships and four NCAA titles. The class put together 13 SEC titles and six NCAA titles to go along with 56 All-American honors.
A time and location of the April 6 visit are still to be determined.