Beyond the Pancakes: Dennis Pursley on Building a Team Culture

In Practice + Pancakes, SwimSwam takes you across the country and through a practice day in the life of swimming’s best athletes. It breaks down training sessions, sub sets, and what every team is doing to be at their best. But why are they doing things that way? What’s the philosophy behind these decisions, and who’s driving this pain train? In Beyond the Pancakes, we dive inside the minds of coaches and athletes, getting a first hand look at why they do the things they do, and where their minds are pointed on the compass of evolution as a swimmer.

Alabama swimming and diving has a storied past, and perhaps an even more storied present. Most recently at the 2019 NCAA Championships, the men won their 2nd national title in the 200 medley relay in the last 4 years. The coaching staff consisted of 2 coaches that had led national teams as well as Olympic gold medalists. We learned yesterday, however, that one of those coaches would be leaving, as Dennis Pursley announced his retirement from coaching.

While SwimSwam was in Tuscaloosa in January, we had the chance to sit down with the man at the helm of Bama, who not only has been the head coach for Bama but also started his coaching career at Alabama and swam for the tide. Pursley confided in us what it takes to build a top level team’s culture, starting from what he calls the “24/7 commitment”.

See SwimSwam’s 1st Practice + Pancakes with Alabama Here.

See SwimSwam’s 2nd Practice + Pancakes with Alabama Here.

See SwimSwam’s 1st ‘Beyond the Pancakes’ with Alabama Associate Head Coach Jonty Skinner Here.

See SwimSwam’s 2nd ‘Beyond the Pancakes’ with Alabama Associate Head Coach Jonty Skinner Here.

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About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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