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AU swimmers sink to eighth place

AUBURN – Auburn sophomore Olivia Scott earned a runnerup finish in the 100-yard butterfly, and senior diver Vennie Dantin posted another top finish on Friday to highlight Auburn’s second day of the 2012 NCAA Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center.

Olivia Scott swims to second-place finish in 100 butterfly

As a team, the Tigers fell out of contention for the national championship. They were in eighth place with 184 points. California ledwith 311 points. Georgia was second with 247.

“(We had) some more solid swims,” Auburn coach Brett Hawke said. “We’d love to get a win. There’s some really tough competition out there. The girls are doing great. Overall, we’re still in a position where we can fight for anywhere between a fifth- and eighth-place finish. That’s kind of where we expected to be and hoped to be. We’ve put ourselves in that position going into the last day, we’re just going to have to fight in the morning.

“People realize that there’s some fast swimming going on. The girls have stepped up their game across the board, and there have just been some amazing races today for sure.”

Scott posted a time of 51.61 in the 100 fly final to earn runnerup honors, the highest finish for an Auburn swimmer in the event since Mimi Bowen won the national title in 1997. Vanderpool-Wallace added some valuable points for the Tigers with a fifth-place time of 51.79, her first All-America finish in the event. For Scott, it was an improvement on her sixth-place showing a year ago.

“I think Olivia just needs a little more experience,” Hawke said. “And Arianna was on her 10th race in two days, so I think it’s catching up with her a little bit, too. But they’re both fighters, and we’re happy to get the points in the end.”

Scott had broken the Auburn school record in the event in the morning prelims, earning the top seed in the final with a time of 51.46. It marked the third time the record changed hands this year between Scott and Vanderpool-Wallace.

“I was just trying to stay calm,” Scott said. “At SECs I was getting really nervous before each race, but I was just trying to stay calm and not worry about what everyone else was doing around me. I’ve been working on it, just taking deep breaths, nothing really that special. I was trying to keep to myself and swim my own race.”

Dantin provided another spark for the Tigers in the 3-meter diving event. She scored a six-dive total of 379.55 to set her second school record in as many days, earning a fourth-place finish, the best of her career at an NCAA Championship. It was her sixth career All-America honor as well.

“I’m extremely happy with how I’ve placed thus far,” Dantin said. “The springboards are always where it’s really competitive. On 3-meter, I had a little lower (degree of difficulty) than some of the (other) girls with their pike list and my tuck list. But it was all about staying calm, taking deep breaths and having fun with it. I’m just excited about the overall finish.”

Head diving coach Jeff Shaffer added more praise to his senior diving captain’s performance.

“Just a great performance, right from dive one,” Shaffer said. “She stepped up and was competitive on every one of her dives. Another new school record on her last three-meter event. I just couldn’t be more proud of her.”

Freshman Abby Duncan became just the fourth Auburn swimmer to break the 1-minute mark in the 100 breaststroke, posting a time of 59.99 to tie Kara Denby for the third-fastest in school history as she finished fourth in the consolation final.

Auburn’s 200 medley relay team got the night off to a strong start as Emily Bos, Lauren Norberg, Scott and Vanderpool-Wallace earned a fourth-place finish with a time of 1:36.15, cutting a few hundredths off their preliminary time and coming within .04 of breaking the school record. California continued their mastery of the sprint relays, winning the race in an NCAA and U.S. Open record time of 1:34.24.

The night wrapped up with the 800 freestyle relay. Auburn’s team of Becca Jones, Megan Fonteno, Haley Krakoski and Katie Gardocki posted a time of 7:06.09, good enough for 12th place.

The final day of the NCAA Women’s Championships gets underway at 11 a.m. Saturday with preliminaries in the 200 backstroke, 200 breaststroke, 100 freestyle and 200 butterfly. Platform diving prelims begin at 1:30 p.m., and the slower heats of the 1650 freestyle begin at 4:45 p.m. The fastest heat of the mile and the rest of finals get underway at 7 p.m. Live video for prelims and live results will be available through NCAA.com, and ESPN3 will carry a live broadcast of the finals.

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