Longtime Alabama assistant coach James Barber is leaving the combined swim program in Tuscaloosa, marking the second assistant the Crimson Tide have lost in the past two weeks.
On April 17, Alabama senior associate coach Ozzie Quevedo was announced as the next head coach of the SMU women’s team.
Barber came to the Crimson Tide way back in 2007 after three years as an assistant at Florida State. After a decade on Alabama’s staff as an assistant, he was promoted to associate head coach in 2017.
Barber says that he is pursuing new opportunities and plans to stay in the sport.
Since 2005, Barber has mentored 10 athletes who have competed at major international meets — five Americans and five international swimmers. He also gained experience coaching Olympians during the 1990s with the U.S. Resident National Team in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where Jonty Skinner was among his fellow coaches and Amy Van Dyken among his pupils. In 1996, Van Dyken became the first American woman to win four gold medals in a single Olympiad.
A native of Prattville, Alabama, Barber got his start coaching at the age group level for the Montgomery YMCA before earning a head coaching gig at Club Makos in Gulf Breeze, Florida. That proved to be his springboard to breaking into the college ranks with FSU in 2004.
The last two seasons under new head coach Margo Geer have been up and down. In 2022, the Crimson Tide achieved their highest finish ever at the NCAA Championships when the women placed 4th, but they fell to just 14th this year. Along the way, fifth year Morgan Scott departed the program midseason, telling SwimSwam that she “couldn’t trust some of the coaches” with her health. Meanwhile, the Alabama men had their streak of top-15 NCAA finishes snapped at eight seasons in a row with a 19th-place showing this year.
In 2021, after Coley Stickels resigned but before Geer took over, Barber and Quevedo guided the Crimson Tide women to their first NCAA relay title in program history.
JAMES JAMES JAMES JAMES JAMES
When it is Tuesday morning and all you can do is drink your coffee and wonder, “how the heck did this happen?”
In the elite athlete world, few people really stand out. Few people really care about the athletes and their dreams, hopes, wins, losses, grades, loves, stories, health, ideas, activities, friends, parents, goals, plans, hearts, minds, courage, pain, questions and spirit. This great man did all that and more. He put young adults first in every aspect of life. He was their heart and their lifeline in a place far away from home, under intense pressure, and scrutiny.
These athletes came to James for everything, girls and boys alike. He never turned anyone away. He listened… Read more »
just wondering where all the verbal commits to Alabama are? Losing 22 swimmers this year and only getting 16 in for next year if they all stay committed which is highly unlikely at this stage. Losing at least 14 next year and only 7 verbals so far. Several current roster swimmers still deciding on whether to even swim next year or not. ugh The tide is in the barrel with no room to squeeze out.
James was the glue to this program. Now it will be left behind like Roman’s keys in College Station.
Not really relevant unless you’re just going after Alabama as a whole
Pretty relevant since he’s the one giving all the kids bad info on the portal and sitting in on meetings with margo and silencing them. He’s been called to every single swim meeting in the last week. Pretty relevant when it speaks to his character and the quality of the people in charge of compliance and athlete protection. He was right beside Margo when James was fired. Watching her lie to the kids because that looks better in the press.
Well some context could have been helpful, but thank you for clarification, although considering your screen name is old swammer
Old pac 12 swammer
That’s how this works. They get so bloodthirsty that they will mow down absolutely everything and everyone in their path to get their way. Scorched earth.
Alabama swimming loses one of the greats in this action.
Reading through the comments below it’s already been said numerous times but James is not just a phenomenal coach of swimming but a coach of LIFE. He grows and mentors his athletes as people, I certainly wouldn’t be the person I am today without his guidance. He created a culture of accountability, hard work, and family in his swimmers that has permeated into everything I do as a man, husband, and father. He showed every day on deck that he cared about you as an individual and your well-being was important to him. If a swimmer or family of a swimmer is looking for the coach that will treat… Read more »
How many Bama swimmers will end up at SMU?!
Zero. Literally zero
Is this an indictment on Ozzie as a coach too?
I do find it puzzling that the Alabama Athletic Director was actively shopping Ozzie’s name for coaching positions at other Division 1 colleges.
James I was blessed enough to have you as my coach for 2 years. You took me under your wing and made me a better man and swimmer. James cared more about how we could grow ourselves as people and how we can improve our academics so that when we leave college and go into the real world we would be ready. And that dosent just go for the people in his group but everyone on the team. James you have been the best coach I have ever had. I wish there was a way for me to thank you but I will never be able to repay you for what you have done for me and this team. I… Read more »
Margo Geer, Coley Stickles, and Greg Burne has ruined this team, they have ruined the life of the alumni association, they have ruined the tradition of this team, they have tarnished the faith and love that this team has been for years. They have managed to have more turnover than any other team in coaching staff. It is sad, not just for the fans, but for the team.
Coley ruined them by making them successful??
What tradition? Mediocrity? The team did not have a great history or tradition of success. Fans? All 12 of them? The alumni association? You mean the people who complain to administration when the team is winning when they think the coach is mean. Then they complain that the team is losing when the coach is nice. Nevermind that the alumni give nothing back to their proud program of excellence except complaints to the administration. Save it.