A full rundown of all of the verbal commitments this fall is available here.
Dennis Pursley is getting on to turning around the Alabama Crimson Tide program in a hurry, starting with his very first (public) verbal commitment: Bonnie Macdonald from Australia.
Macdonald is one of the top recruits in the class of 2013, and was on pace for a possible Olympic berth, and at the very least a top-4 finish, before being derailed by injury. In 2010, when she was only 14, she qualified for the 2010 Open Water World Championships, where she finished 20th in the 5km swim. She trains, not surprisingly, at the Miami Swim Club: the club run by one of the greatest distance coaches in swimming history, Denis Cotterell. Cotterell has coached among others the last two World Record holders in the men’s 1500 free: China’s Sun Yang and Austrlaia’s Grant Hackett.
In the pool, Macdonals is a star. She has bests of 4:09.87 in the 400 free and 8:32.30 in the 800, both from the summer of 2011, and as an open water swimmer would likely excel even further in the longer 1650 yard freestyle. Those times likely mean an NCAA scorer as a freshman, if they translate well to yards swimming. She hasn’t done much short course swimming in her career, even short course meters, so that will remain to be seen.
She has also been a 2:15 in the long course 200 fly, and should immediately help the Tide’s 400 free relay, with a long course best of 57.38 in the 100 free, which converts to around a 51.0 in yards.
Just a few weeks before the Olympic Trials, MacDonald injured her back lifting weights, which cost her a 2012 taper. Her progress, though, indicated that even the above times are short of her potential.
Pursley, whose last gig was as the head coach of the British National Team, has spent a lot of time internationally, and these international connections are already paying off for him. Macdonald is the best Australian swimmer we’ve seen make the jump to the NCAA in a long time.