Tiger tankers enjoy first day at Georgia Tech Invite

ATLANTA (auburntigers.com) – The Auburn coaches expected some fast swims from the women’s team at this weekend’s Georgia Tech Invitational. If Thursday’s results are any indication, the next two days promise to be fun.

“Wow! What a fun day of racing,” Auburn associate head coach Lauren Hancock said. “The women have established a solid lead and we have a lot to celebrate after today’s sessions.”

Auburn posted the nation’s top time in the 200 freestyle relay (1:29.71) to start the night session and continued to race fast from there on out, recording eight individual B cuts, a relay B cut and five personal bests during the finals session alone.

“It’s clear we are fit and we displayed a high level of toughness repeatedly tonight,” Hancock said. “Ashton (Ellzey) broke away from the field on her third let in the 200 free relay and Robyn (Clevenger) took it from there to win and set the tone.”

Bailey Nero took home Auburn’s lone individual win of the night, clocking a 1:59.46 in the 200 IM to win by .04 seconds. She was joined in the championship final of the event by Caroline Baddock, who checked in at 2:00.16 to finish sixth, and Jacqueline Hippi, who placed 10th (2:02.17).

“Caroline and Jaqi added some welcomed depth to our IM squad, both swimming well under previous bests, and Bailey won with a last five-yard burst to the wall,” Hancock said.

When Auburn wasn’t touching first, many times it was touching second. Zoe Thatcher blazed to a 4:43.39 to finish second in the 500 free, Ashton Ellzey and Julie Meynen tied for second in the 50 free in 22.56 and the 400 medley relay team of Aly Tetzloff, Kristen Murslack, Haley Black and Meynen combined for a runner-up time of 3:36.69.

Tetzloff also brought home a fifth-place finish in the 50 free (22.91) after going a season-best 22.62 during prelims. Ashley Neidigh also had a top-10 finish, pacing herself in the 500 free to a 4:51.05 during the finals for a ninth-place finish.

As a team, Auburn posted 24 individual season-best times in the swimming lanes, with 14 of those times between prelims and finals being lifetime-bests.

“The energy is high and momentum is present,” Hancock said. “They are swimming with confidence and that’s probably the biggest shift we’ve seen in their demeanor from last year to this year.”

Things were going just as well over in the diving well where Maddie Cox (304.30), Alison Maillard (283.55) and Claire Schuermann (272.55) took home three of the top nine spots, and a zone qualifying score for each, in a field of 48 divers.

Auburn’s men’s diving team is also competing at the invitational. Pete Turnham turned in a career-best 344.15 during 1-meter prelims before finishing fourth in the finals. Scott Lazeroff was sixth with a 322.05 during finals.

After one night the No. 11-ranked Auburn women hold a 100-point lead over second-place No. 16 Florida, 346-246. Alabama is in third (228), Arkansas fourth (224) and South Carolina fifth (186).

Friday’s schedule includes the 200 medley relay, the 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke, women’s 1-meter, men’s 3-meter and the 800 free relay.

Prelims begin every day at 10 a.m. ET and finals at 5:30 p.m.

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