1999 MEN’S NCAA CHAMPIONS They came, they fought, they conquered. With a third-place ranking 467.5 going into the 1999 NCAA Cham414.4 pionships, the Tigers went to the IU 356.5 Natatorium on the prowl, looking 300.5 to bring the NCAA title back to the 296 Plains. A second title in two years 286.5 would be nothing short of astounding 171 for the Auburn program which saw its 169 first NCAA title in 1997. 149.5 However, with no divers available, 148 Auburn was going to have to fight for every point they earned. Having at 1999 Auburn Titles least 39 teams and 250 athletes en• Aaron Ciarla tered into the competition, AU knew 50 free, 200 FR, 400 FR, that this would be no easy triumph. 200 MR Head coach David Marsh believed the • Mike Bartz key to Auburn’s success would rely 200 MR, 400 MR on the team leaders taking charge as • Matt Busbee well as the freshman stepping up to 200 FR contribute to the team. Auburn made • Dave Denniston their presence known early as the 200 breast, 200 MR, 400 MR Tigers swam a time of 1:16.50 in the • Brett Hawke 200 free relay during prelims, setting 200 FR, 400 FR, 200 MR, a U.S. Open, NCAA and NCAA meet 400 MR record. That energy and enthusiasm • Lionel Moreau set a pace that would catapult the 200 IM Tigers through the rest of the meet. • Brock Newman “On the first day, our goal wasn’t 200 FR, 400 FR, 400 MR necessarily to set a record. Time wasn’t the issue, we just wanted to get our hand on the wall first and get our 40 points,” team captain Aaron Ciarla said. “We were just focusing on one session at a time. We just went out gunning for it.” Auburn continued to release their ammunition as the Tigers, went on to win four of the five swimming events held on day one. Senior Lionel Moreau captured the 200 IM (1:45.24) title, followed by Ciarla’s victory in the 50 free (19.34) and closed out the day by winning its closest event of the evening, the 400 medley relay (3:09.17). Brett Hawke, the anchor leg of the relay, dove in behind but swam a 42.34 split to outtouch Stanford’s Justin Ewers as the Tigers won by .08 of a second, 3:09.17 to 3:09.25. At the end of day one, Auburn had a 41-point lead over Texas and a 58.5-point lead over Stanford. The Tigers added to their title portfolio on day two as they continued to dominate in the relay events and score points in individual events. AU total recorded 168.5 points on day two alone, but only won one title, the 200 medley relay (1:26.12). 1999 NCAA Results 1. Auburn 2. Stanford 3. Texas 4. California 5. Arizona 6. Southern California 7. Tennessee 8. Michigan 9. Georgia 10. Texas A&M
On the last day, the competition became very intense, as Stanford remained within reach of Auburn. It was truly a nail biter down to the last event. One of the biggest bonuses of the meet came on day three when sophomore Dave Denniston swam 1:55.51 to win the 200 breast title, the third individual title for AU in the meet. Heading into the final event of the meet, the 400 free relay, the Tigers Dave Denniston captured the 200 breast title and was a part of the 200 and 400 medley relays. knew that Stanford was still on their heels. AU’s leadership of Brock Newman, Hawke, Ciarla and Romain Barnier did not fail the Tigers as the relay team blazed through the 400 free relay. Ending the Championships as they began them, AU set the U.S. Open, NCAA and NCAA meet record in the 400 free relay with a time of 2:50.90. “I was like a cat on a hot stove Saturday night,” said Marsh. As soon as senior Romain Barnier touched the wall, everyone knew that the Auburn Tigers had won their second NCAA title. “The goal was, as is with a lot of programs, to win a national championship,” said Marsh. “We had an exceptional commitment from our seniors to lead the program. Throughout the year, when we hit a lot of bumps in the road, but they pulled us together.” The celebration of the second national title in three years, began on the pool deck and continued all the way back home to the Plains. After they arrived, there was the traditional rolling of Toomer’s Corner, causing downtown Auburn to look snow white in April. A coronation ceremony along with the Tiger walk from the Martin Aquatic Center to the coliseum was held in their honor. It was a moment of glory for the newcomers and a sense of conquest for the older members of the team who now had two NCAA titles placed by their name. “When you do something special at Auburn, the whole town and university celebrate,” said Marsh. In addition to the titles, AU now owns three of the five NCAA records in the relays, two of which were set this year. “The relays did play a crucial role,” said Marsh. “The fun thing about it was that there were different heroes on each different relay.” Auburn won seven events and placed in the top eight of eight others. There was one swimming event, out of eighteen, in which the Tigers did not earn points. For the first time in AU history, all of the Auburn NCAA team earned All-America honors. One could say that the Tigers went above and beyond the call of duty to prove that they were No. 1. NCAA champion Denniston summed it up best: “This is a dream come true. That’s why I came to Auburn, why a lot of guys did. Being this close and being able to taste it is a lot of fun.” Well said. -By Shea Miller
Aaron Ciarla took home four NCAA titles, including the 50 free.
2010-11 Auburn Swimming & Diving Guide