TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – After serving on The University of Alabama swimming and diving coaching staff for 29 seasons and leading Crimson Tide divers to two individual NCAA championships, 69 All-America honors and 21 Southeastern Conference titles, Pat Greenwell announced this week that he is retiring from the University and coaching.
“When you come to a decision like this it’s never any one thing,” Greenwell said. “But both my parents are still alive and my father is in the process of recovering from a stroke, so the opportunity to spend more time with both of them was certainly a key factor for me.
“Being at Alabama all these years gave me the opportunity to work with so many student-athletes and coaches, and I have to thank them all for giving me the chance to learn what I learned from each one of them, which made me the person I am today.”
Greenwell, who started with the Crimson Tide in the fall of 1987, was named SEC Diving Coach of the Year six times and coached UA divers to eight SEC Diver of the Year honors.
“Words cannot express the amount of respect, appreciation and gratitude I have for the incredible contributions Pat has made to our program over so many years,” UA head swimming and diving coach Dennis Pursley said. “His accomplishments will be forever remembered in our swimming and diving family. Even more important to me, Pat is a person of the highest integrity so we truly have some enormous shoes to fill.”
Greenwell most recently coached Tide alumnus Aaron Fleshner at this summer’s United States Olympic Team Trials in Indianapolis, where Fleshner, a three-time U.S. national 1-meter champion, earned a pair of top-10 finishes.
Greenwell’s student-athletes won a pair of NCAA championships, with Brent Roberts winning the platform in 1998 and Lane Bassham winning the 3-meter board in 2004.
The 2004 season saw Greenwell recognized as the NCAA Championships Coach of the Meet after Bassham took first off the 3-meter and second off the 1-meter springboards and was named the NCAA Diver of the Meet. Both she and Crystal Rasmussen earned All-America honors that season, leading Alabama to a 21st place team finish.
The success of Greenwell’s student-athletes wasn’t limited to the pool. 2011 senior Adam Booher earned an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship as well as a place on the CoSIDA Academic All-District IV At-Large Team. In 2010, Elizabeth Hughes was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America team.
In 2005, Stewart Smith earned an SEC Postgraduate Scholarship, one of the league’s highest academic honors, while Jill DeVasher earned the same award in 1998. Mark Rourke brought the swimming and diving program its first NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, one of the most prestigious awards offered on the national level, in 1991.
Greenwell’s divers also faired extremely well on the international level. Fleshner made a pair of trips to China in the summer of 2011 as part of the United States national team, first in Shanghai for the FINA World Championships and later in Shenzia for the World University Games. Fleshner also competed at the 2010 USA Diving Grand Prix meet in Ft. Lauderdale and the 2014 FINA Grand Prix in Malaysia. Former Greenwell students Rafael Alvarez and Rourke both competed at multiple Olympic Games with both finaling in at least one Olympiad. Roberts was the United States Olympic team alternate on the platform in 2000 after finishing third at the Olympic Trials.
Under Greenwell’s tutelage, Rourke became the first diver in conference history to win all three diving events at the SEC Championships, doing so in 1991.
Greenwell made his way to Alabama in the fall of 1987, after a five-year stint at Clemson University. While coaching Clemson, the Tampa, Fla., native earned his master’s degree in post-secondary counseling. He dove collegiately at the University of Pittsburgh, garnering All-America honors on the way to earning a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education in 1981.
An active member of U.S. Diving as both a coach and a judge, Greenwell has served as the U.S. National Coach for competitions in China and Canada. In 1997 and 1999, he served as the U.S. judge at the World University Games.
Greenwell married the former Debbie Purifoy in May of 2003.
Swimming news courtesy of Alabama Swimming & Diving.