The invitational will match the Tigers against strong swim programs such as Georgia, University of California at Berkley and Indiana University during a pivotal period in Auburn’s season: immediately after the U.S. swimming winter nationals and a week before the diving winter nationals.
Brett Hawke, the men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach, said at this invitational Auburn will focus on solidifying its SEC championship team.
“Although we are traveling and competing as a team, we will be using this invitational to get a better look at our middle swimmers,” Hawke said. “At this point in the season we know who our top swimmers are, but it’s now time to understand where the others stand.”
Diving coach Jeffrey Shaffer said the team is feeling confident after its successful meet at the Georgia Tech Invitational Nov. 18–20.
“This is a perfect opportunity for us to improve on our scores and dives, which is what we are always aiming to do,” Shaffer said. “Competing away gives us a chance to compete in a different environment, which is key to performing strong dives consistently.”
Shaffer said this weekend’s meet will give the team a good look at what it will be up against in January when it returns to Athens for the Georgia Diving Invitational following the Dec. 15–22 U.S. winter nationals.
Vennie Dantin, senior diver, said she believes Auburn’s team has several advantages over the other schools competing based on its focus and persistent practice on the basics.
“Having a solid base and fundamental skills is extremely important for consistency,” Dantin said. “I think coach Shaffer has done such a great job of enforcing basic skills in our practice, and this is extremely important for diving consistently.”
Shaffer said he’s confident in the team’s ability to perform well at the upcoming invitational and specifically excited about the debut of two new dives: a back three and a half pike by sophomore John Santeiu and a back two and a half pike by freshman Shanna Schuelein.
“I have been preparing for this dive since the beginning of the semester, but I didn’t even do it until right before Thanksgiving break,” Schuelein said. “I am nervous, but I’m also excited to perform a new dive in a meet.”
Hawke said he believes the invitational will benefit the team because of the chance to watch the current NCAA men’s champions from the University of California at Berkley. He hopes it will give them an edge seeing an opponent perform.
“We don’t usually get to see California until the NCAAs, so this will be a good opportunity to see them compete and see how we are in comparison,” Hawke said.
Despite the Georgia Invitational falling between the two winter nationals, Hawke said he is confident this will not negatively impact Auburn’s performance.
“We have been well prepared for this invitational for over a month now,” Hawke said. “Everyone is ready to go out and swim fast.”