INDIANAPOLIS - Auburn put together a very strong morning of preliminary swims, advancing three individuals and two relays to championship finals Thursday at the 2013 NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships at the IUPUI Natatorium.
The Tigers will have a total of four individuals with scoring chances tonight as Marcelo Chierighini and James Disney-May made the A-final in the 50-yard freestyle, Zane Grothe qualified for the championship in the 500 freestyle, and John Santeiu advanced to the consolation final in 1-meter diving.
Auburn's 200 freestyle relay kicked off the morning with a fifth-place time of 1:17.06 as Chierighini, Disney-May, Alex Hancock and TJ Leon earned a spot in the championship final. Chierighini led off with a 19.14 split, and Disney-May and Leon were also both in the low-19s.
Chierighini and Disney-May followed up their relay performances with outstanding individual swims in the 50 free to earn return trips tonight. Chierighini qualified second overall in the morning trials with a 19.04, and Disney-May set a new personal-best with a 19.43 to earn seventh place in preliminaries and a spot in the A-final.
In the 500 free, Grothe clocked a time of 4:16.17 to finish third in his heat and eighth overall, earning his third straight trip to the A-final at the NCAA Championships. He stood seventh overall with one heat remaining, but only one swimmer was faster than his time from the previous heat to keep Grothe in the final. Freshman Jordan Jones also swam the 500, posting a time of 4:29.44.
The 400 medley relay team of Kyle Owens, Stuart Ferguson, Arthur Mendes and Chierighini wrapped up the session on a high note by winning their heat of the relay with a 3:06.55 and qualifying fourth overall. Owens had the second-fastest backstroke split in the field (46.11), and Chierighini brought it home in 41.49 to clinch Auburn's spot in the final. Owens missed a return swim in the 200 individual medley, posting a time of 1:46.61 in the morning.
Santeiu also secured his first All-America finish with a 12th-place score of 339.45 in the 1-meter diving preliminaries to advance to the consolation final.
Finals get underway at 7 p.m. ET (6 p.m. CT), and AuburnTigers.com has links to live results and live video. Fans can also follow @AuburnSwimming on Twitter for the latest updates.