Dennis Pursley Hired as Head Coach at Alabama

  17 Braden Keith | May 10th, 2012 | College, Featured, News

Occam’s Razor: other things being equal, a simpler explanation is better than a more complex one.

After a long, challenging process, the University of Alabama has hired one of their own, former Alabama swimmer Dennis Pursley, as their newest head coach.

Pursley is one of the most highly-credentialed coaches in the world, which is probably why in 2003 he was named as one of the 25 most influential people in the history of USA Swimming.

Among his stops since graduating from Alabama in 1973 include 14 years as the USA Swimming National Team Director, and most recently as the head of British Swimming, where he has guided the program to a renaissance.

He made his break early in his career as the coach who led Mary T. Meagher to her first World Records; Meagher is still widely regarded as one of the best age group swimmers of all time.

Other stops include such illustrious programs as the Olympian Swim Club in Edmonton, as the first leader of the Australian Institute of Sport, and with the Cincinnati Marlins.

Despite all of his successes, it has been some time since Pursley has spent significant time in the team-specific environment, with most of his recent gigs coming in the higher ranks of National Teams.

Still, Pursley has demonstrated an incredible knowledge of the sport, and through his different experiences as a coach on three different continents, he has a ton of wisdom to give out.

Pursley had already announced that he would be returning home to the United States after the Olympics, and now that path is redirected to Tuscaloosa. Now in his early 60’s, he won’t be a “forever” answer for the Crimson Tide, but he’s certainly got at least a decade left in him to turn the program around.

He’ll have some good tools to work with – including rising freestyler BJ Hornikel, and reports that a brand new facility is on its way.

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17 Comments on "Dennis Pursley Hired as Head Coach at Alabama"

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4 years 13 days ago

congrats to Denny! hope he sees that ‘new’ pool in the NEAR future!

4 years 13 days ago

Denny had done a great job everywhere he has been. A very good hire for Alabama.

4 years 13 days ago

Roll Tide, welcome aboard Coach Pursley. Looking forward to seeing Bama back at the Top where they belong!

4 years 12 days ago

Had the pleasure of working with Coach Pursley at the Auburn camp in 2008. Alabama is in good hands. Congrats Coach!

Mike Anderson
4 years 12 days ago

Super hire! I’m stoked to see Dennis at the helm and the news that a new pool is coming.

4 years 12 days ago

Good news for Bama.

4 years 12 days ago

Interesting. Denny hasn’t coached in over 20 years (besides a brief/ unsuccessful stint in Phoenix), is at retirement age, and has hardly guided Britain to a ‘renaissance.’ Besides two women, their trials were poor based on current world-rankings.

4 years 12 days ago

I agree …hope he hires some good assistants!

4 years 12 days ago

The British swimming renaissance was initiated through the hard work of Bill Sweetenham. He did all the tough job and changed the culture at british swimming and started the program that produced Ellen Gandy, Fransesca Halsall, Liz Simmonds, etc.
He was even vilified by former british swimming starts publicly for him being tough, but he succeeded.

4 years 12 days ago

So, it is like hiring Gene Chizik?

Josh Christensen
4 years 12 days ago

Two of Pursley’s children have Pac-12 coaching experience. This might be a very family oriented team.

4 years 11 days ago

Unlike Chizik, Pursley won’t be arriving with fresh, uber-losing coaching record. Say it’s caused by him or someone else working for him there, but teams sure seem to progress, improve and succeed, coincidentally enough, while he’s there. Bring on the coincidences!

4 years 11 days ago

Very well put. Besides, unlike Chizik, Pursley has all his teeth!

4 years 10 days ago

Ha, true enough. Seriously, I think Dennis has the knowledge and experience to be as successful as he wants to be, as long as the UA administration gives him the resources for top notch staff and facilities.

Rick Allred
4 years 8 days ago

I hope his new assistant coaches are selected soon. Since Coach Pursley will remain in England until the swimming portion of the Olympics are done, he will have to hit the ground running once he arrives in Tuscaloosa. The assistant coaches will be required to supervise practice session, inspire new swimmers, and develop a positive morale for the entire team.
On paper, their current group of recruits are rather weak. Hopefully with the hiring of this amazing head coach and plans for a much needed new swimming facility, recruiting.will be greatly enhanced. I am excited about the future of BAMA swimming and diving.
New head coaches usually want to select his/her own group of assistant coaches. Will the current diving coach (Pat Greenwell) also be replaced?

4 years 8 days ago

Pat, the diving coach, has worked with six, yes, six head coaches at Bama, including the Ed Reed interim year with zero, yes, zero dual meet wins. Word is he packed up his office the day after McI was let go. Hope that’s not true. He’s been the only shining spot there for quite some time.

4 years 8 days ago

Word is that Pat will be retained. Maybe the new facility will be named after him? Good man!


About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

The most common question asked about Braden Keith is "when does he sleep?" That's because Braden has, in two years in the game, become one of the most prolific writers in swimming at a level that has earned him the nickname "the machine" in some circles. He first got his feet …

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