Alabama Assistant Jonty Skinner Selected for ASCA Hall of Fame

University of Alabama assistant coach Jonty Skinner has been named to the 2017 class of the American Swim Coaches’ Association (ASCA) Hall of Fame.

No public announcement has been made of the full class, but Alabama unveiled that Skinner was appointed to the class and will be officially inducted on August 31, 2017. Skinner was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1985 as a swimmer.

As an athlete, Skinner came to Alabama from his native South Africa in the mid 1970s, where he won the school’s first individual NCAA title by winning the 100 free in 1975 and set the NCAA record. A year later, he would break the World Record in the 100 meter freestyle in 1976 at the U.S. National Championships – a record that stood at 49.44 for almost 5 years until Rowdy Gaines broke it in 1981.

Skinner will also forever hold a spot in history as the first-ever FINA-recognized World Record holder in the 50 free.

Skinner will become one of the few internationals in the Hall of Fame dedicated to coaches in the United States, and one of the few individuals in the history of the sport inducted to Halls of Fame as both an athlete and a coach.

Skinner’s coaching resume, as impressive as his swimming resume, began in 1978 – just one year after finishing his college career.

Jonty is one of the most accomplished and respected coaches in our sport,” UA head coach Dennis Pursley said. “Our professional relationship goes back more than 20 years and our friendship well beyond that. Jonty is not only an exceptional coach but also a great friend and person of the highest integrity.”

Skinner is currently in his 3rd stint at Alabama, currently serving as the associate head coach. He spent time as the head coach at the San Jose Aquatics Club, which he led to a team championship at the USA senior nationals and 5 USA junior national titles.

After spending one year as associate head coach for his long-time mentor Don Gambril in the late 1980s, he took over as head coach in 1990, and was named the SEC Women’s Coach of the Year in 1994 – while leading both the men’s and women’s team to top 10 finishes at NCAAs.

That same summer, he was named the USA Swimming National Team Director and the first coach of the resident team at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He held that title for 6 years before becoming USA Swimming’s Director of Performance Science and Technology for the next 8. He then held a similar role with British Swimming before returning to the United States.

Skinner’s latest return to Alabama, which coincided with Pursley’s hiring, has seen a revival of the program. Pursley has focused mainly on the program’s sprint group, where he coached Kristian Gkolomeev to 3 individual NCAA sprint titles and a title-winning 200 medley relay.

Among the stats of Skinner-coached athletes:

  • 18 national titles
  • 20 Olympic medals
  • 17 Olympic gold medals
  • 2 Kipputh Award winners


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Turns out Jonty (and the whole South African team was banned from the Montreal Olympics. He swam his 100 free record at US Nationals a few weeks later in 1976. Bittersweet for him – world record but no Olympics.


Jonty coached our cross-town team, San Jose Aquatics. I always admired his integrity and genuine love for his swimmers and for the sport, as well as his interest in scientifically innovating the sport. He has been a great role model to many outstanding swimmers and to coaches, including my daughter’s coach at PASA. I’m thrilled he’s getting the recognition he deserves.

Bruce Lawrie

Never more well deserved. Congratulations.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of 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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