Auburn Men, Women Beat Arch-Rivals Alabama in First Double Win since 2019

Auburn vs. Alabama

  • January 19, 2024
  • University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  • 25 yards (SCY) Dual Meet
  • Full Meet Results
  • Team Scores:
    • #20 Auburn Women 167 – #19 Alabama Women 133
    • #14 Auburn Men 184.5 – #19 Alabama Women 115.5

For the first time since 2019, the Auburn Tigers have swept the Alabama Crimson Tide, breaking a two meet losing streak for the women and extending the men’s winning streak to four. It has been almost a decade, since 2015, that Auburn has won both men’s and women’s meets over Alabama on the road.

The meet concluded both teams’ dual meet seasons, but they’re far from done with each other: both squads head into the upcoming pre-conference Auburn Invite before February’s SEC Championships also hosted by Auburn.

Men’s Recap

  • #14 Auburn Men 184.5 – #19 Alabama Women 115.5

While Auburn head coach Ryan Wochomurka has made it a priority to rebuild the sprint program that the Eagles were famous for in their heyday (including when he was a member of the team), the distance crew continues to do work in the spring semester.

Junior Mason Mathias from Leeds, Alabama won the 1000 free in 8:58.97, which is a whopping 29-second improvement over the team’s last dual meet on January 6 against Georgia. That’s the second-best time of his career behind only the 8:51 he went in this dual meet last season – but that might be by design. Last year, Mathias peaked at the SEC Championships before adding at NCAAs. If he’s a little slower coming out of the heavy winter training this year and can reverse that trend, a top 8 finish and NCAA All-America honors are in the cards for him.

He led a 1-2 finish in the 1000 free, with teammate Grant Davis placing 2nd in 9:03.76. That’s the best time of his career in a 1000 free that wasn’t a split en route to a mile.

Alabama’s Charlie Hawke (4:18.62) took the win in the 500 free ahead of Mathias (4:19.88), though. Hawke also won the 200 free in 1:32.90, which is about three-tenths shy of what he swam at his meet last year.

That swim by Hawke in the 200 free crushed Alabama’s Pool Record. The old mark was set by NCAA Champion Shaune Fraser in 2008 when he swam 1:34.23.

That distance group, all juniors, were recruited to Auburn by the former head coach Gary Taylor, who is best known as a distance coach. Auburn was also able to lead off the meet with sprint success in the 200 medley relay. There, the group of Nate Stoffle (21.29), Henry Bethel (23.31), Sohib Khaled (20.79), and Kalle Makinen (18.85) combined for a 1:24.24. That is the 20th-best medley relay in the country this season at any meet, and 5th best at dual meets (behind three Arizona State relays, an NC State relay against Arizona State, and a Cal relay against Arizona on Friday).

Makinen (19.39) and Stoffle (19.63) later went 1-2 in the 50 free, and Makinen also won the 100 free in 43.01.

Alabama did get one final blow in, however. In the meet-closing 400 free relay, Zarek Wilson (43.70), Charlie Hawke (42.16), Kaique Alves (42.47), and Tim Korstanje (43.00) combined for a 2:51.33 for Alabama, beating out Auburn’s A of 2:52.11. Auburn was led by a 42.46 from Makinen, but the rangy Hawke had the best split of the field.

Other Notable Results:

  • Nate Stoffle won the 200 back in 1:40.87, over a four second improvement in the last 13 days since the team’s last dual meet. While not as fast as his mid-season time, that is faster than he swam at last year’s NCAA Championship meet as he tries to avoid a mid-season peak for the second-straight year. His 50 free runner-up finish of 19.63 was a season-best.
  • His brother Aidan Stoffle went 46.08 in the 100 backstroke to win. That put him ahead of Sohib Khaled, who was 2nd in 47.31, a new personal best for him. He also swam a personal best in the 100 free leading off Auburn’s “B” relay splitting 44.22, and won the 100 fly in 46.69. Neither of those are events that he usually swims at taper meets – but they might be after this performance.
  • Alabama’s Michael Deans grabbed two breaststroke wins. He tied with Auburn’s Henry Bethel in the 100 in 53.37 – which was a season-best for Deans and only .03 seconds shy of his lifetime best from last year’s SEC Championships. Deans later won the 200 breaststroke outright in 1:56.30.
  • Alabama’s Leonardo Alcantara swam 9:04.78 for 3rd place in the 1000 free, which ranks him 8th in program history.

Women’s Recap

  • #20 Auburn Women 167 – #19 Alabama Women 133

The Auburn Tigers overcame a pair of pool records from Alabama to grab their first win in more than four years in this intra-state rivalry.

Alabama opened the meet with a 1:35.81 in the 200 medley relay, which broke the 2008 record of 1:37.23 by more than a second. That relay included Gaby van Brunt (24.03), Avery Wiseman (26.60), Kailyn Winter (23.42), and Cadence Vincent (21.76) is a season-best for Alabama.

In fact, it’s six-tenths better than the “A” relay that was disqualified at the mid-season Tennessee Invite, with Van Brunt subbing in for fellow freshman Jada Scott being a big portion of that improvement. Scott didn’t race at this meet, and hasn’t yet this semester, but Van Brunt’s 24.0 split might give her that spot permanently going forward anyway.

That’s an NCAA “A” Standard for the Crimson Tide.

Not far behind, the Auburn women also went a season-best of 1:36.25, just missing an “A” standard of their own.

Alabama now ranks 9th in the country and Auburn 11th this season.

After that opening race, however, the tide turned quickly in favor of the Tigers. Averee Preble won the 1000 free in 9:39.53, which is a new personal best, and Polina Nevmovenko won the 200 free not long after in 1:46.08, leading a 1-2 Auburn finish.

Another 1-2 in the 100 back for Auburn (Kensley Merritt 52.21, Ellie Waldrep 52.46), a nail-biter 59.72 win for Stasya Makarova in the 100 breast, and a 1:56.34 win in the 200 fly by Meghan Lee gave Auburn 5 consecutive wins.

But then back came the sprints, where Alabama is building a young core of talent under head coach Margo Geer, who is not far removed from an elite sprinting career herself. Though Scott’s absence was noticeable, Alabama’s other freshman sprint standout Cadence Vincent won the 50 free in 22.42, beating out Auburn runner-up Lexie Mulvihill (22.44).

SwimSwam asked Alabama about Scott’s absence, but as of publishing did not receive a response.

Coming out of the diving break, Alabama won a firecracker of a 100 free. Diana Petkova won in a season-best of 49.00, two-tenths better than she was at the Tennessee Invitational mid-season, but it was a nail-biter: Auburn’s Polina Nevmovenko was 2nd in 49.01, Auburn’s Lisa Klevanovich was 3rd in 49.02, and Alabama’s Vincent was 4th in 49.14.

Klevanovich and Nevmovenko are both Russian, while Petkova is from Bulgaria.

The teams traded wins for a while after that. Freshman Maggie McGuire won the 200 back for Auburn in 1:54.90, which was only .05 seconds shy of her lifetime best from the mid-season invite. Then Alabama’s Avery Wiseman got her second Pool Record of the day, in the 200 breast, with a 2:08.22. That broke the old pool record set in 2001 by German Olympian Anna Poleska.

Wiseman’s win kicked off a mid-meet burst for Alabama. Mackenzie Brandt won the 500 free in 4:43.33 followed by Van Brunt winning another very close race in the 100 fly in 52.44, .01 seconds ahead of Auburn’s Meghan Lee.

Auburn’s Ashlynn Sullivan broke the streak by taking her second diving win of the day on 1-meter, but Petkova pulled Alabama back into the win column with a 1:58.77 in the 200 IM.

Those wins were too little, too late though, as even with those three straight swimming wins for Alabama, Auburn was still comfortably in the lead.

They punctuated the day with a 3:16.50 in the 400 free relay to conclude the meet, about a second ahead of Alabama (3:17.62).e

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Region Rat
4 months ago

I think Florida might be the closest thing Auburn has to an arch-rival in swimming IMO

Rowdy Marsh
4 months ago

BK, thank you for the write-up. One clarification…Auburn’s mascot is not the Eagles, it’s the Tigers. The eagle refers to the school’s battle cry—War Eagle.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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