Dennis Pursley is joining his in-state rivals from Auburn in adding a huge international recruit to the Alabama lineup for this season, in the midst of all of the recruits pouring in for next season. Pursley’s latest addition is Emma Saunders from Great Britain, where Purlsey just resigned as the High Performance Director to take the Alabama job.
Saunders comes in with big-time credentials, as she competed for England at the 2010 Commonwealth Games just past her 16th birthday in 2010. and won a silver medal in the 400 free relay and a bronze in the 800 free relay. She also won a trio of medals at the 2011 World Junior Championships in Lima, including individual bronze in the 100 back with a long course time of 1:02.35 that stands as her best result. In that raced, she beat out top American recruits Kylie Stewart and Olivia Smoliga.
Saunders is really just an all-around phenomenal swimmer who excels in most races. In the freestyles, she’s been 26.33/55.85/1:59.96, which convert to around 23.2/49.5/1:46.0 in yards. All of those times line up to put her immediately on the Tide’s free relays for this year’s SEC Championships. Her addition alone, for example, would have knocked 8 seconds off of last year’s 800 free relay.
In other events, Saunders has a 1:02.20 in the 100 fly in long course, and a 2:16 in the 200 IM.
When Pursley inherited the program at his alma mater, he inherited a project. In just his short time on the ground there, though, he’s already shown that he has no intention of keeping it that way. This signing follows the verbal commitment by top Australian junior Bonnie Macdonald last night, though Macdonald won’t come in until next fall.