TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – After opening the season at home, the Alabama swimming and diving teams take to the road this week, traveling to Columbia, Mo., to take on the Missouri Tigers on Friday, Oct. 14 at 12 p.m. CT.
It will be the first Southeastern Conference meet of the season for the Crimson Tide men while the women opened SEC competition with a win over Vanderbilt at the end of September.
“It’s a big advantage to have the opportunity to compete against Missouri, because the top SEC teams are among the best in the country,” UA head coach Dennis Pursley said. “It is the strongest conference in the country. By the time we get to the NCAA Championships, we will be battle tested and will know what it’s going to take to be successful.”
The Crimson Tide has been highly successful in the early going. In the month of September, the men and women combined to compete 48 individual and relay events, winning 47. The fall has also seen the Crimson Tide’s workload increase to the point that they are in a heavy training cycle coming into the weekend.
“The hard work is essential,” Pursley said. “The initial impact on performance can be negative but you have to take that risk and pay that price if you want to have the chance to be where you want to be when it counts the most. It always pays off. I’ve told the team on many occasions, ‘You can smile early in the season or you can smile at the end of the season, but you’re not going to be smiling both times. You have to take your pick.’ Our philosophy is to put the emphasis on the championship competitions where it counts the most.”
Alabama’s last trip to Columbia came last season for the SEC Championships where seniors Connor Oslin and Bridget Blood led the way. Oslin won his second consecutive SEC 100 backstroke title while Blood took second in the 100 breaststroke. No one is expecting that kind of speed on Friday.
“If they’re extremely fatigued and beat up from the work we have been doing, they’re going to be a little disadvantaged and probably not going to perform as close to their personal best,” Pursley said. “You usually expect to see a mix bank in competition at this time of year for that very reason, but Missouri is in the same boat. It’s a level playing field.”
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Courtesy of Alabama Athletics.