The Crimson Tide, in their quest to rebuild the once mighty Alabama swimming program, may accidentally have assembled the National Team of Alabama.
That’s because they will have at least two former big-time National Team coaches floating around on deck next year; one being head coach Dennis Pursley, and next with the pending hiring of Jonty Skinner to join the staff. Multiple sources have confirmed that the announcement from Alabama should come shortly.
Skinner, like Pursley, is an Alabama graduate, as he came over the United States from his native South Africa before college. In 1975, he won the NCAA title in the 100 free, and would have been an Olympic medal favorite in 1976 if it weren’t for South Africa’s banishment from the games over the countries apartheid policies.
Skinner, who is now an American citizen, was an assistant and head coach in a previous stop in Tuscaloosa in the late 80’s and early 90’s. After that, he began a 15-year run working with the US National Team – the first 7 as their Resident Team Coach, and then 8 as the Director of National Team Technical Support. He’s also spent the last few years in the UK, doing work with the British Team as their Director of Performance Science and Technology.
As a former USA Swimming sports scientist, he’s an extremely technical coach, who will use every elite and advanced tool at his disposal – think along the lines of what Sean Hutchison preaches about the connections between the brain and the body to enhance performance. Skinner is expected to focus on the sprinters, which are the foundation of the college scoring system.
This now puts an all-star coaching staff on deck that basically bleeds crimson and white, and are true Alabama guys. There are still more hires yet to be added to this staff, which is looking to be a large group – a sign that Alabama is investing the resources to make the program top-notch.
Earlier this weekend, Alabama announced that another coach with National Team experience, James Barber, would be sticking around in Alabama. He worked under Skinner as a resident coach in Colorado Springs.