2002 WOMEN’S NCAA CHAMPIONS By the time day three rolled around, 2002 NCAA Results 1. Auburn 2. Georgia 3. Stanford 4. Southern California 5. Texas 6. Florida 7. California 8. Southern Methodist 9. Arizona State 9. Indiana 2002 Auburn Titles • Maggie Bowen 200 IM, 400 IM
there was no doubt in the minds of 474 386 301 300.5 267.5 249 245 178 136 136
coaches, athletes and fans, who was going to win the 2002 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship in Austin, Texas, except in the minds of the soon to be champs - the Auburn Tigers. Not that the team thought the feat was impossible or that they weren’t capable, but the fear of “you just don’t know what can happen” loomed over their heads. Heading into that last day of competition, the Tigers stood at 67 points
ahead of the second place team with a strong day of competition remaining. Although the team knew they held a safe lead, the Tigers couldn’t help remembering last season, when a false start on the 400 free relay in the prelims of day three squashed any hope of bringing home Auburn’s first-ever women’s NCAA title. Little did Auburn know, that now insignificant set-back may have very well
Celebrating Auburn’s first NCAA women’s title.
joy and not disappointment. That night of swimming at the championships was one no one could
been the fire fueling the drive to their title in 2002. Eight athletes returned in
forget. The Tigers controlled the meet despite the excitement, despite the
2002 from that season. Stronger than ever. Both mentally and physically.
anxiousness and despite the immeasurable pressure put on those 11 women.
The stage was set. All Auburn had to do was have a solid preliminary round in the morning and stay in the places they qualified in for the finals and the title would be theirs. That sounds simple enough, but what most casual fans didn’t realize is that
The Texas Aquatics Center was indeed painted orange on March 23, 2002, but on this night, the color changed a bit. Their dream had come true, the Auburn Tiger women’s swim team defeated rival and three-defending national champion Georgia by 88 points.
the Auburn team was filled with a team of three freshmen, six sophomores
All the hard work, and yes, blood sweat and tears had come to fruition. The
and two juniors. Not exactly veterans to pressure.
Tigers brought home the title.
Not only did Auburn have a solid prelim competition, the Tigers again dominated the pool all but officially announcing their claim to history. The Tigers had an emotional meeting immediately following the morning
As commonplace in some of Auburn’s past seasons, the 2002 team didn’t need a superstar. Sure, they had one. Junior Maggie Bowen not only earned two NCAA titles in the 200 and 400 individual medley and finished second
swim. The topic? It was the fact that the title was all but clinched. The meet-
in the 100 breaststroke, but she swam on four relays and broke her own
ing was one of tears, prayer and lots of hugs. But this time, the tears were of
American Record in the 200 IM (1:53.91). But Bowen’s individual point total could have been erased and the Tigers would have still stood at the top of the awards stand in the end. No, this was a team title. A title where all 11 swimmers became All-Americans. All 11 women stood on that awards stand as individuals and claimed a trophy. Freshman Margaret Hoelzer was the 10th-highest scorer at the meet placing fourth in both the 100 butterfly and 200 backstroke and fifth in the 200 fly. The team as a whole broke an astounding 14 school records during the three-day event and AU head coach David Marsh was named the NCAA Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year for the second year in a row. He and associate head women’s coach Kim Brackin had constructed a masterpiece. No one could deny the astounding performance Auburn had just accomplished. Not No. 1 Stanford and not runner-up Georgia. The Tigers were finally on top. Where they knew they could and should be. With such a young “inexperienced” squad, it is a spot they don’t plan on relinquishing any time soon.
Maggie Bowen won both the 200 and 400 IM events in 2002.
- By Mendy Nestor, Auburn Media Relations
2010-11 Auburn Swimming & Diving Guide