19.6/44.3 Sprinter Jack Blake Retires from Swimming, Will Stay at Alabama

Jack Blake, a junior at the University of Alabama, has retired from the sport after two full seasons with the Crimson Tide citing personal reasons.

TOP TIMES

  • 50y free – 19.67
  • 100y free – 44.34
  • 200y free – 1:39.15

Blake came to Alabama in the fall of 2017 from Phoenix, Arizona, where he trained with Scottsdale Aquatic Club and attended Brophy College Prep. He won Arizona HS D1 titles in the 50 free and 100 free as a senior in fall 2016, helping Brophy to the program’s 29th-straight state title (they just secured #32 in November).

At Alabama, Blake competed at the 2018 SEC Championships as a freshman but did not score. He’d make improvements in his sophomore year, where at the 2019 SEC Championships he posted a 19.67 to take 13th in the 50 free, scoring 14 points.

His biggest impact came in the 200 free relay, where he split 19.08 on the third leg as Alabama won the 2019 SEC title in 1:15.43. He didn’t go to NCAAs, but his SEC split was a touch quicker than his NCAA replacement Jonathan Berneburg was at the big meet (19.15). Alabama placed sixth at the national meet as a team.

Blake raced at the first two meets of this season, his junior year, and has since retired. He was second in the 50 free (21.47) against Delta State in September and then was fourth in the same event (20.91) against Georgia in October.

With Blake no longer in the picture, ‘Bama still has three sprinters who have been under 20 seconds in the 50 free this season: Zane Waddell (19.15), Tyler Sesvold (19.65) and Berneburg (19.82). Meanwhile, Sam Disette has been 20.29, and he split 18.93 at 2019 SECs and 18.97 at 2019 NCAAs.

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psc alum
2 years ago

I know I am late to this comment party but I really want to make a comment on this, probably more for myself than the 1-2 people who may read it.

I swam for Coley at Phoenix Swim Club 8 years ago, and for years have defended him. I was never a superstar but was one of the relatively better swimmers in his group, and I did improve while swimming for him. I always knew he was brusque and abrasive, but I acknowledge I was on his good side, so I didn’t receive the worst of it. He would make mean comments regularly – for example when our top group went to Sectionals (the big taper meet for the majority… Read more »

leisurely1:29
2 years ago

This aged well…

Another swimmer mom
2 years ago

I waited to post this because I didn’t want to be carried away by all the strong emotions in all the posts.
From Day 1 Coley has wanted to downsize the team. It’s his prerogative as head coach. Pursley and Jonty carried a bigger team because they were developers. Coley is not, and he doesn’t want that many swimmers. OK, his choice as head coach. The problem is his inconsistency. He has total disregard for the student-athletes as people except his favorites. He is deliberately trying to get swimmers to quit because then their scholarship then gets paid out of University Athletics, not his budget (AD’s suggestion). He has cut faster swimmers for their scholarship money. The swimmers are… Read more »

zoo
Reply to  Another swimmer mom
2 years ago

@Another Swim Mom
You have some legitimate points, items that are 100% coach and administration discretion but still legitimate. They get lost, however, with the inaccurate and incomplete details mentioned. Pursley/Jonty carried a bigger team, true, but not always to the extent of recent years. 40 men/women per team is about 8-12 more per team than other teams. The increase was in the # of developmental swimmers (very minimal scholarship or walk ons). This team was inherited by Coley,with a questionable roster balance in and of itself, and definitely not his vision for his team. I don’t really know how you can say Coley is not a developer, have you looked at his accomplishments and swimmers developed? While not… Read more »

Kyren
Reply to  Another swimmer mom
2 years ago

Another whiney parent whose kid was cut. Sorry if your kid wasn’t D1 caliber in a power 5 conference. Such is the nature of college sports! It’s cut throat and and not everyone is going to make the team. Who cares if he is bringing in faster people and getting rid of the slower ones!? His job is to win not be kids’s best friends or hold everyone’s hand. There were many kids on that roster eating scholarships who should have never even been let on the team to begin with. He absolutely dosen’t need to keep everyone until the end of the season. There is no rule that stipulates that. More of the same continuation of nonsense. He should… Read more »

jfitz
Reply to  Kyren
2 years ago

He is not and was not the best club coach in the country! Yes, he got already fast and talented kids to swim really fast, but there are far better age group coaches out there that can develop both the athlete’s talents and character. His inability to build a positive environment; one of respect, trust, and kindness will always evade him. For that reason, no swimmer of mine will ever step foot on UA while he is there.
There are so many other good and decent coaches out there that deserve that title and have had countless kids break AG records.

Natas
Reply to  jfitz
2 years ago

You clearly know nothing about Coley, have never seen him coach a practice, and have never asked a swimmer who has swam under him if you are making those comments. I would venture to say you are also a fan of Jonty and have preconceived notions about Coley.

Hard to say his swimmers were already fast as he was known for taking over clubs and producing outstanding results everywhere he went with minimal resources (Abbey Weitzeil ring a bell?). The environment at UA, despite a few malcontents on an anonymous board, is fantastic.

Don’t send any of your kids to UA then. Plenty of great parents, swimmers, and coaches who would be glad to send kids to UA… Read more »

Coolin’inCali
Reply to  Natas
2 years ago

Nuts! It’s just a matter of time until another story breaks. Trouble follows him. Glad he is not here anymore.

Not disappointed
Reply to  jfitz
2 years ago

@jfitz. Why is an anonymous club coach even on this comment section? If you haven’t swam for him or have a swimmer who swam for him what do you know about the environment his swimmers have? Who are you trying to support here and why? If you’re not going to give your name is anyone really supposed to believe you have ever even developed a D1 swimmer?

Michael Blake
Reply to  Not disappointed
2 years ago

I joined the conversation late, and that post appears early at the beginning of this thread. I would place it here, but I can’t seem to copy and paste it. Boomers. I am Jack’s father, and we do have prior history with the new hire. I am not responding to any one’s post in particular, but I invite you to scroll up to my response. Most parents of adversely affected swimmers, including myself, have contacted UA’s president, UA’s AD, Compliance, and Title IX to little avail. Adversity goes beyond life’s challenges to include any entity that, or who, prevents success or development in a harmful or unfavorable way. We developed a D1 swimmer, as far as I can say, after… Read more »

JohnJ
Reply to  Michael Blake
2 years ago

If you are Jack’s dad, then again you are mistaken. Jack quit swimming on his own volition. No one pressured or forced him to quit. Jack kept his scholarship and was treated fairly by Coley and compliance. You have no reason to contact anyone with any complaint.

Phylis
Reply to  Another swimmer mom
2 years ago

Coley wouldn’t have recruited any of the swimmers that were at Alabama that he is standing on the back of to look good in the eyes of the swimming community. No way he has the eye for talent to pull a Zane from SA, or Allie… and the list goes on. I am sure Coley can build a decent team there but at what cost? The guy is an absolute plug, and if he makes it to through the next quad I will eat my sock.

Natas
Reply to  Phylis
2 years ago

I believe some of this is true. Coley likely would not have recruited most of the current swimmers with the exception of maybe Zane. But saying he doesn’t have an eye for talent? Why not? He has worked with the best swimmers (HS/college/pro) for years and was incredible at recruiting at IU. His staff seems more than competent as well. Two very good swimmers followed him from IU to Alabama, and he has done wonders for Allie so dosent need to “stand on the back” of anyone- the results speak for themselves.

Church
Reply to  Natas
2 years ago

He would not have recruited Zane… Or basically %75 of a 2x National Title winning sprint relay. He looks at times of 17 year olds. Gotta have a top 5 recruiting class right? Zane didn’t have the times coming out and now he’s a World Champion – probably due to the taper workouts Cooley have him though 🙂 Like I said, we are all waiting to see how good Mr. Stickels truly is.

Will Not be Silent
2 years ago

What a disapointment to hear that Beth Howard, the admin who has received several letters of complaints believes in Coley rather than the complaints made. To tell the swim team that these are lies and Greg Byrne is a good man only confirms the power of the coach and the AD influence on the board who is suppose to be protecting our children.

Some of you have mentioned that racial remarks were made by Coley and unfortunately, they are true. On a day like today, when we celebrate Martin Luther Kings birthday, how ironic that UA ignores the race incident and moves on as though nothing has happened but I have hope that truth will come out and justice will… Read more »

Coach
Reply to  Will Not be Silent
2 years ago

Our sport does not have a place for racism. If your statements are valid, you need to go to the local media and perhaps reach out to government officials.

Frank - 2
Reply to  Will Not be Silent
2 years ago

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.”

Not Disappointed
Reply to  Will Not be Silent
2 years ago

Who would you put more trust in and believe, professionals who have been educated trained and have experience in these matters or disgruntled parents and ex coach with a personal grudge because he didn’t get what he wanted? If you have the courage to call out Ms. Howard by name please use yours.

Actually
Reply to  Will Not be Silent
2 years ago

It seems at though this claim has already been brought to the attention to the University. Those who seem to be targeted seem have been brought in and questioned and nothing ended up coming from it. As badly as you want to make absurd claims, it’d be good to know there’s more the picture than what everyone seeks to be painting.

qrs
Reply to  Actually
2 years ago

This is not true, some of those who have been targeted have not been brought in or questioned

Impressions and next steps
2 years ago

It is clear that: 1) Coley or his supporters are trying to sway the narrative in this comment section. 2) The Alabama AD is supporting Coley (for now) and would like people to believe ‘there is nothing to see here’. 3) Many people are aware that there are real problems (you can tell from the likes/dislikes here alone). However, people close to the situation may be scared to speak up, for fear of retaliation. 4) People other than Jonty need to speak up, if they are able. It is too easy to write off Jonty’s concerns as sour grapes, even if he has the Alabama swimmers’ best interests in mind. 5) If you have direct evidence of abusive behavior or… Read more »

Bama Source
2 years ago

Haven’t heard anyone mention the most awful of Coley’s offenses: scheduling cupcakes. He made Bama senselessly beat up on first-year program Montevallo today. Absolutely merciless, disgusting display of brutality. Heard that sprinters were begging him to let the final relay be exhibition. His response? “We won’t be swimming any exhibitions at SECs.” Disgusting. (/s)

See Something Say Something
Reply to  Bama Source
2 years ago

Just wow. Congratulations, Coley, on your amazing win against a freshman, first year team. You should be proud [complete sarcasm here].

be quiet
Reply to  Bama Source
2 years ago

Montevallo requested to swim Alabama

You can do it
2 years ago

Have you ever seen the SafeSport training? Everything in there is violated if even half of this is true. Why do good people stand by and let this happen? Stand up! This is the type of thing that will do way more than end a program. If we continue down this path it will end a great sport all because of one coach that isn’t really that good anyway. Search the times, not of the most talented, but the average athlete under Cooley. Don’t let this continue.

peaceeeee
Reply to  You can do it
2 years ago

Unfortunately the safesport training is for USA Swimming and the NCAA won’t do anything

DrSwimPhil
Reply to  peaceeeee
2 years ago

Not true. There’s a whole bunch of Title IX training all NCAA coaches must take that has a lot of overlap with SafeSport.

jfitz
Reply to  peaceeeee
2 years ago

I believe Coley is registered USA Swimming, and most of the athletes as well. For that reason, Safe Sport should be contacted.

Frank - 2
Reply to  You can do it
2 years ago

Also only two of the top 100 male swimmers in the 2020 class commit to Alabama (only one from the US), while two from the women side as well? That’s not winning….must be the swimmers fault #NOTMYCOACH

AZ Guy
2 years ago

I’m not sure who is trying to stir the pot here, but Byrne was dropped from the lawsuit at Arizona.

https://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/ua-track-coach-fred-harvey-former-ad-greg-byrne-dropped/article_3ff02fca-da1c-11e7-9569-43e314994a18.html

Knows AZ
Reply to  AZ Guy
2 years ago

Want there a pretty large settlement?

Really Knows AZ
Reply to  Knows AZ
2 years ago

Why the big cover-up from an AD that is clearly so tarnished. Ask the questions and find the answers. Connect the dots. BOD members are aware and would be interested to know.

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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