MINNEAPOLIS – The Auburn men's swimming and diving team is in fourth place at the NCAA Championships after Thursday's opening day of action. The Tigers scored 110.5 points, placing the team just 28.5 points behind first-place Texas.
Stanford is in second place with 136 points while California is third with 134. Auburn is the top Southeastern Conference team so far as Florida is in seventh with 70 points.
"We put ourselves in a great position for tomorrow," said Auburn head coach Brett Hawke. "We had some great performances tonight from some guys. Not everything went our way, but it never does when you are in a battle."
Hawke said he was especially pleased with the performances of senior Adam Brown and freshman Zane Grothe.
"Adam Brown was big for us today; to go out there and give four sub-19 performances like he did, I am really proud of him," said Hawke. "Zane really gave us a boost in the 500 free, an event we have not done well in the past. It really shows that he has a bright future and we are making moves in the mid-distance events."
Auburn opened the night by taking third place in the 200 freestyle relay, marking the ninth year in a row for the Tigers to finish in the top three in the event. The team of Brown, Kohlton Norys, Karl Krug and Marcelo Chierighini clocked a time of 1:15.58.
Grothe made a record-setting impact in the next event, finishing seventh in the 500 free with a time of 4:16.82 – the second-fastest time all-time at Auburn, trailing only his preliminary time of 4:16.57.
"I am so glad that I can contribute to the team, that was my biggest goal going into SECs and I'm happy I could help out," said Grothe. "I set a goal coming into the year to break the 500 free record before I graduate and to do that as a freshman, I can't even put into words what it feels like."
Grothe's seventh-place finish is the best ever for an Auburn swimmer in the event. He is just the second Tiger ever to qualify for the 500 free championship final, joining B.J. Jones (2003).
After swimming an 18.86 leadoff 50 free split in the 200 free relay, Brown came right back with his fourth sub-19 second swim of the day with an 18.72 in the 50 free, taking runner-up honors to Cal's Nathan Adrian (18.66). His time is the third fastest ever at Auburn, moving him ahead of Fred Bousquet and Jakob Andkjaer, but still behind Cesar Cielo and Matt Targett.
"Being in the company of guys like Cesar Cielo, Matt Targett and Fred Bousquet is a great accomplishment," said Brown. "Coming into this race, I knew I was going to have to swim as fast as I could, against one of the fastest swimmers in the world in Nathan Adrian. I would have loved to have beaten him, but it was a great sprint and I am looking forward to the 100 free."
The Tigers scored 48.5 points in the event with six Auburn swimmers scoring. Krug took seventh (19.50) while Drew Modrov swam a personal-best 19.41 to take second in the consolation final, finishing 10th overall. Senior Kohlton Norys was right behind him, taking 11th in 19.46. Marcelo Chierighini placed 13th in 19.65 while Chris Manning tied for 14th with a time of 19.67.
In the final event of the night, the Auburn 400 medley relay team of Kyle Owens, Stuart Ferguson, Brown and Norys won the consolation final to take ninth in the event with a time of 3:06.76.
"Brett told us we needed to go out there and make a statement that we belonged in that championship final," said Norys. "We put the four fastest guys together and went out there and gave us a lot of momentum heading into tomorrow."
Action at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships continues at 11 a.m., Friday with prelims in the 200 medley relay, 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breast, 100 back, 800 free relay and 3-meter diving. Fans can follow along with live results and a free live streaming video at www.GopherSports.com.
Follow Auburn Swimming and Diving on twitter at twitter.com/AuburnSwimming.
Adam Brown (200 FR, 50 Free, 400 MR HM)
Marcelo Chierighini (200 FR, 50 Free HM)
Tony Cox (400 MR HM)
Stuart Ferguson (400 MR HM)
Zane Grothe (500 Free)
Adam Klein (400 MR HM)
Karl Krug (200 FR, 50 Free, 400 MR HM)
Chris Manning (200 FR, 50 Free HM)
Drew Modrov (50 Free HM)
Kohlton Norys (200 FR, 50 Free HM, 400 MR HM)
Kyle Owens (400 MR HM)
Jared White (400 MR HM)
200 Free Relay
3 – Adam Brown (18.86), Kohlton Norys (19.10), Karl Krug (19.01), Marcelo Chierighini (18.61) – 1:15.58
7 –Zane Grothe – 4:16.82
2 – Adam Brown – 18.72
7 – Karl Krug – 19.50
10 – Drew Modrov – 19.41
11 – Kohlton Norys – 19.46
13 – Marcelo Chierighini – 19.65
T14 – Chris Manning – 19.67
400 Medley Relay
9 – Kyle Owens (45.97), Stuart Ferguson (52.47),Adam Brown (45.90), Kohlton Norys (42.42) – 3:06.76