The following is a press release courtesy of Alabama Swimming & Diving:
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama swimming and diving teams open the New Year with a road trip to College Station, Texas where they will take on Southeastern Conference foes Texas A&M Friday at the Student Rec Center Natatorium.
The Crimson Tide’s first competition of 2015 comes on the heels of several weeks of high volume workouts that began after fall semester final exams and ran through the start of classes on Wednesday. Alabama began its winter training stretch with a week-long camp in Boca Raton, Fla., which was followed by a short break for the Christmas holiday and then another training camp in Tuscaloosa that stretched nearly two weeks.
“Winter training is when we crank up the volume and push as hard as we can,” head coach Dennis Pursley said. “Now, we’ll start honing in on the championship season. Some programs point to different meets during the regular season, but for us, it’s all about the postseason and putting all our eggs in that basket.”
Coming off the high-volume practices of winter training doesn’t mean that Alabama will go into Friday’s meet, which gets underway at 1 p.m., with any less intensity.
“That’s something we’ve been working on this season,” Pursley said. “No matter what the circumstances are, or where we are in our training cycle, we want to be aggressive and race hard every time we get up on the blocks.”
Friday marks the first time that Alabama has competed in College Station for a dual meet, though the Aggies, now in their third season as a member of the SEC, did host the league championships in 2013, which means this will be a return trip for most of the Tide’s juniors and seniors.
The meet, which will be streamed live on SEC Network +, will feature several swimmers from both schools who are ranked in the top-25 nationally in a variety of events, including Alabama sophomore Kristian Gkolomeev, currently ranked second in the men’s 50 freestyle, and Texas A&M senior Sarah Henry, ranked No. 1 in the women’s 400 individual medley.
Alabama’s men go into the meet after being named the sixth most improved squad in the nation by CollegeSwimming.com. That honor follows the Tide men being named the Break Out Team of the Year by College Swimming and Diving Honors in 2014.
Both the men’s and women’s teams also enjoyed strong showings in the classroom during the fall semester. The Tide women posted better than a 3.5 team grade point average, while the men’s team GPA was better than a 3.2.