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AU swimmers extend top 10 streak

INDIANAPOLIS – Auburn got a silver-medal winning performance from junior Marcelo Chierighini and a bronze-medal relay swim on Saturday night as the NCAA Men’s Swimming & Diving Championships came to a close at the IUPUI Natatorium.

Marcelo Chierighini swims to second-place finish/Todd Van Enmst photo

The Tigers finished in eighth place at the championship meet with 226.5 points, marking Auburn’s 21st consecutive top-10 finish in men’s swimming & diving, dating back to 1993, and their 31st top-10 finish in 39 all-time NCAA appearances. Michigan claimed its first national championship since 1995 with 480 points, and California finished second with 406.5.

“We had a great meet overall,” Auburn head coach Brett Hawke said. “We only brought seven qualified swimmers and one diver. We were a very small team, and to finish in the top 10 is just an outstanding achievement. This meet is getting a lot deeper; you had nine teams scoring 200 points or above. We’re very proud to be in the top 10 again, and I’m very proud of the boys.”

Chierighini won his second straight silver medal in the 100-yard freestyle, posting the second-fastest time in Auburn history with a 41.51, passing Matt Targett’s top time of 41.55 from the 2009 season. He finished second to USC’s Vlad Morozov, who swam the fastest time in history with a 40.74 to eclipse Cesar Cielo’s five-year-old NCAA record. Chierighini’s swim ranked as the seventh-fastest of all-time in short-course yards.

Fellow junior James Disney-May also earned All-America honors in the 100 free with a 15th-place overall finish in a time of 43.37.

The Tigers capped off the night and the meet with a bronze medal-winning performance in the 400 freestyle relay. The team of Chierighini, Disney-May, Arthur Mendes and Kyle Owens stopped the clock in 2:50.54, finishing third behind Southern Cal and Michigan.

In the diving well, John Santeiu wrapped up an outstanding week with his third-straight All-America honor, finishing 11th overall in the platform diving competition. Santeiu qualified 15th in the preliminary round to advance to the consolation final, then posted a score of 404.95 to finish third in the B-final. Santeiu advanced to the consolation final in all three diving events during the week.

“I’m really proud of the progress John made in the last year, when he went to NCAAs and didn’t score,” Auburn diving coach Jeff Shaffer said. “Today was a little disappointing in that he didn’t really do anything very well in his first list, but he managed to hit his last dive and get a second chance. Then he goes over 400 points again in the consolation final. I’m really proud of him, again, in getting here and getting to score in all three events. It’s a great accomplishment for him and should help him be even better in the years to come.”

Junior Zane Grothe earned his second All-America nod of the week and his third-straight in the 1650 freestyle with a 15th-place time of 14:55.42.

Auburn finished the week with 30 All-Americans and a national championship in the 200 freestyle relay. Kyle Owens and Stuart Ferguson, Auburn’s two seniors in the meet, combined for seven All-America honors during the week and finished their careers with a combined 22 (15 for Owens, seven for Ferguson).

“Kyle and Stu are the finest type of men you could ask for,” Hawke said. “They’ve kept this group together all year, kept them motivated and positive, and I was really proud of them this week.”

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