Tide swimming & diving beats Auburn in season opener

Alabama Swimming and Diving Opens Season with Win over Auburn

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama men's swimming and diving team opened its 2010-11 season Saturday by beating Auburn 133-110, winning eight of nine individual swimming events to pull off victory. The Crimson Tide women, also in their season opener, fell to the Tigers 169-74.

"The guys have had this one circled on their calendar since the beginning," UA head coach Eric McIlquham said. "They did a great job today. We haven't beaten Auburn since 1993 and they've won six out of the last eight national titles, so this is a really good place for our guys to be right now."

After finishing second in the 200 medley relay by nine-hundredths of a second, Alabama's men went on to win nine of the next 10 races including the 800 freestyle relay to close out the meet.

"Obviously this is really early in the season and there are a lot of things we need to work on and continue to improve on, but this was a great way to begin the season at home," McIlquham said.

Senior Catalin Cosma got the winning started in the 1000 freestyle with a time on 9:26.90. He completed the sweep of the distance events by taking first in the 500 freestyle in 4:33.01 as well as swimming and leg on the winning 800 freestyle relay.

Junior Joe Ziegler also got his season off to a fast start, winning two individual events and anchoring the Tide to a win in the 800 freestyle relay to close things out. He clocked a 1:40.48 to win the 200 freestyle and then came back and took first in the 200 backstroke with a 1:48.62.

"Joe really stepped up and did a great job as did Catalin, with both of them winning three events," McIlquham said.

In his first individual race freshman Vlad Caciuc won the 50 freestyle with a time of 20.60.  In the 200 butterfly, Alabama was dominant, sweeping the first three places led by freshman Alex Coci's winning 1:50.60, followed closely by sophomore Anestis Arampatzis' 1:50.91 and freshman Hunter Hinson's 1:51.07.  The Tide went one-two in the 100 freestyle with freshman BJ Hornikel taking the win with a 45.19 followed by Caciuc's 45.64.

"We have a really young crew and on the guys side we had three different freshmen step up and win events for us," McIlquham said. "That was a good way for them to come in and really get the ball rolling."

The Tide closed out the win with a down-to-the wire victory in the 800 freestyle relay.  Hornikel, Ziegler, Cosma, and junior Gilles Gutnecht battled up and down the pool with Auburn's A relay, out touching the Tigers by nine-hundredths of a second with a 6:43.83.

On the women's side of the meet, senior Kate Shannon Gray and freshman Lauren Piper took first and second in the 200 IM, with Gray touching at 2:02.24 and Piper coming in at 2:07.05. Piper was part of another UA one-two sweep when she finished second in the 200 butterfly to junior Suzanne Schwee. Schwee turned in a 2:04.19 while Piper touched at 2:06.73. Freshman Marissa Dressel was second in the 200 freestyle with a 1:52.67 while freshman Kristel Vourna was second in the 100 freestyle with a 51.79.

"We have ladies who are battling some illness right now and some that are injured, but we still turned in some good performances on the women's side and I'm really happy with them," McIlquham said.

The Alabama swimming and diving teams return to action on Oct. 23 at 1:00 p.m. CT when they host the LSU Tigers.