Auburn S&D ready to host 2020 SEC Championships
SOURCE: AUBURN ATHLETICS
For the first time since 2015, the Auburn swim and dive program will host the SEC Swimming and Diving Championship from the James E. Martin Aquatics Center. The meet will begin Tuesday and run through Saturday.
“Having come from the ACC, the SEC conference championship – there’s none other like it,” Auburn head coach Gary Taylor said. “There’s a lot of energy, excitement. It just has a really high-intensity aura to it, and I think that brings out some awesome performances.
“The pool facility looks really good. Fresh paint, new graphics. It looks like the home of the Auburn Tigers swim and dive program. We’re ready to host the rest of the conference.”
The Auburn women come in ranked No. 14 nationally after finishing 5-2 in dual meets this season. Seniors Julie Meynen and Claire Fisch have been strong all year and feature top-10 times in the SEC in both the 50 free and 100 free. Meynen, in particular, is currently among the top five fastest in both events – 50 free (21.80), 100 free (47.73).
Sophomore Emily Hetzer also has top-five SEC times in the 500 free (4:38.87) and the 1,000 free (9:40.55), and she’s sixth-fastest this season in the 1,650 free (16:09.24).
The Tigers feature one of the SEC’s top divers in senior Alison Maillard who has top-five scores in the conference in both the 1-meter and 3-meter events. Maillard was named the league’s female diver of the week on three separate occasions this season.
“On the women’s side, you’ve got your leaders,” Taylor said. “I also think we’re a lot deeper than we were a year ago. So from 12 to 22, I think every female we’re taking to the meet has an opportunity to not only race in the meet but score. If your leaders are performing up to their capability and then your role players are also adding to that depth and that point total, I think we could have a really good meet.”
The goal for the Auburn men is to improve on last year’s eighth-place finish at the SEC Championship. The Tigers, who also went 5-2 in dual meets this season, currently have two swimmers with top-10 SEC times – freshman Lleyton Smith in the 100 backstroke (47.36) and senior Santiago Grassi in the 100 butterfly (46.65).
Auburn also features a talented group of divers on the men’s side with sophomore Conner Pruitt, junior Logan Andrews and freshman Skip Donald.
“I think from 1 to 22, we’re deeper and better than we were last year,” Taylor said. “We lost some heavy hitters, but I think we’ve got some young freshmen and we’ve got some guys who have continued to improve and get better that can play a much bigger role this year than they did a year ago.”
This year’s SEC Championship kicks off Tuesday with the 200 medley and 800 free relays as well as the men’s 1-meter and the women’s 3-meter diving competitions. Diving prelims begin at 10:30 a.m. CT with finals at 4:20 p.m. CT. Swimming finals will begin at 5 p.m. CT.
For the remainder of the championships, prelims will begin at 9:30 a.m. CT and finals at 5:30 p.m. CT. The SEC Network and SECN+ will broadcast all of the sessions live online. Click here to watch Tuesday’s session.