Toni Dragoja Will Transfer to Alabama This Fall, His 3rd Collegiate Stop (For Good Reason)

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Toni Dragoja, a Croatian native, recently announced his decision to transfer to the University of Alabama beginning this fall (2024). After spending his freshman year at St Francis College Brooklyn in New York, a D1 program in the Northeast Conference (NEC), Dragoja transferred to George Washington University for his sophomore year, which leaves him with 2 years of remaining eligibility.

Dragoja is a Croatian National Team Member, and represented the nation at both the 2021 and 2022 European Junior Championships. His highest placing was at the 2022 championships, where he placed 23rd in the 100 back with a 57.27 and 27th in both the 50 free (23.54) and 50 back (26.59).

Best time progression:

At St Francis College Brooklyn (New York) At George Washington University (GWU)
50 free 20.42 19.70 
100 free 44.42 42.67
200 free 1:36.72 1:33.25
100 back 49.18 49.18
200 back 1:53.61 1:53.61

 

During his freshman campaign at St Francis College, Dragoja was a 2x NEC Champion in the 50 (20.42) and 200 free (1:36.77). He additionally placed 4th in the 100 back (49.35) and 9th in the 200 back (1:53.61). At the same NEC championships, Dragoja also led off St Francis’ 400 medley relay in a 49.18, 800 free relay in a 1:36.72, and 400 free relay in 44.42, all of which were personal bests. Following Dragoja’s freshman season, however, St. Francis eliminated its entire Division 1 athletic program, which was made up of 19 athletic teams. 

After transferring to GWU the next year, Dragoja went on to make huge strides to further improve his personal bests across his 3 primary events. At the Atlantic 10 Championships, Dragoja was a 2-time champion, taking 1st place in both the 100 (42.71) and 200 free (1:33.25) while placing 4th in the 50 free (19.70). 

GWU ultimately won the Atlantic 10 Championship for the 5th time in 6 years, sweeping both men’s and women’s conference titles. Despite the program’s successes, at the end of this past season, head coach Brian Thomas announced his departure from the program. Furthermore, in February, the university announced plans to build a basketball facility over their Smith Center natatorium before declaring in late April that the plans would not go through for the foreseeable future due to issues concerning renovation plans. 

Dragoja has the potential to make an immediate impact for Alabama this coming season—he would have ranked 3rd, 4th, and 3rd in the 50/100/200 frees, respectively, on the team’s roster this past year. At the 2024 Men’s NCAA championships, Alabama placed 19th overall, while at SECs, the team finished 7th out of 10 teams. To qualify for a second swim at SECs, it took a 42.92 in the 100 free and a 1:35.40 in the 200. 

This fall, the Crimson Tide will welcome class of 2024 recruits Jeremy Rosen, Noah Saylor, Leyton Roe, Jarret Payne, Adam Varga, Sebastian Wenger, Cole Witmer, and Jake Kennedy. In addition to Dragoja, Alabama looks to add transfer Lance Johnson, a breaststroker who spent his freshman year at the University of Kentucky. He holds best times of 53.95/1:56.69 in the 100/200 breast. 

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YGBSM
26 days ago

“Drago! Drago!” ~ Rocky

DCSwim
29 days ago

Excited to see him go 1:34 next year!

Low Gap
29 days ago

Imagine multiple high school athletes that have bigger upside and faster times in some events that you don’t bother to recruit.

Klorn8d
Reply to  Low Gap
29 days ago

I may be off but I believe 3 high school kids swam faster than 1:33.2 in the 200 free this year, Thomas heilman, Kai winkler and max Williamson. So yes I guess you’re right multiple have faster times. Though I’m very confident that Alabama tried to recruit those 3, but lost out to the schools they picked (just like every other school in the country besides the schools they picked)

Send them to Auburn instead
Reply to  Klorn8d
29 days ago

I highly doubt Bama even tried to recruit them. That would require picking up the phone. From what I’ve heard from coaches in that part of the country, the staff does not communicate too well.

Klorn8d
Reply to  Send them to Auburn instead
28 days ago

Are you mad they didn’t recruit your son?

lil swimmy jr.
29 days ago

Agreed that he’s transferred both times for good reason, but I don’t think that needs to be in the title. Let the readers find out why in the opening graph.

Admin
Reply to  lil swimmy jr.
29 days ago

ClIcKbAiT

Joe
29 days ago

Sounds like Alabama’s gonna drop their men’s program next year

Send them to Auburn instead
Reply to  Joe
29 days ago

I highly doubt that as well. Although with the current NIL stuff, many teams may be dropping all at once…

Jeah
29 days ago

Why was the 2 back even included?

Send them to Auburn instead
30 days ago

Bama is doing their best to hold on to what they once were… News Flash – their AD hired a Non-Coach as its Head Coach a few years ago. Since then, they have dropped in both performance/rankings at D1 level. Apparently, she is more concerned with everyone singing “Kumbaya”. Getting rid of both Ozzie and Barber are now catching up…

Admin
Reply to  Send them to Auburn instead
30 days ago

Swimmers: “Coach was mean to me”
Also swimmers: “Coach was too nice to me”

Based on the stuff I’ve seen out of the Alabama program over the last few years, I think any good coach would be focused on Kumbaya first and foremost. It’s called “culture building.”

Sissy
Reply to  Braden Keith
29 days ago

Bless the haters. Alabama is where Legends are made! Auburn is low rent with has no money.

RTR-Parent
Reply to  Sissy
29 days ago

You do realize Auburn kicked our ass this year right? They are definitely going to do it again this season.

Auburn is recruiting really good swimmers. Our coaches can’t recruit, let alone turn in a scratch sheet at SEC champs this year.

These are all just the facts and something we deal with as parents on the team.

swimapologist
Reply to  RTR-Parent
29 days ago

Super hard to recruit when the literal parents of your current athletes are actively and negatively recruiting against you, both on the internet and IRL.

I know y’all think you’re helping in some way, but to the rest of us it’s very obvious that you’re intentionally crushing the team.

Sissy
Reply to  RTR-Parent
27 days ago

Your an Auburn parent jealous of your big brother!

bob
Reply to  RTR-Parent
27 days ago

Wocho was a much better hire, point blank. He proved his capabilities at Houston and moved up. Margo was thrown a great team she didn’t deserve and we get worse every season. I’d rather see Chuck Horton doing nothing on the pool deck, again, instead of this.

YGBSM
Reply to  RTR-Parent
26 days ago

And publicly tossing the coaching staff (and the coaches of your own swimmer)under the bus will help how …… ?

bob
Reply to  Braden Keith
27 days ago

Calling some a good coach as the team slides down the rankings year after year is a bit of a stretch, especially when that’s your entire coaching resume.

Jeah
Reply to  Send them to Auburn instead
29 days ago

“Bama is doing their best to hold on to what they once were”
Are they supposed to try and get worse?

Sissy
Reply to  Send them to Auburn instead
29 days ago

Let the haters hate! Welcome to Alabama no drama like Auburn!

Admin
Reply to  Sissy
29 days ago

Alabama and drama look like they would rhyme but they don’t unless you have a certain kind of accent.

Sissy
Reply to  Send them to Auburn instead
22 days ago

If you call call coaching up SMU with only 6 swimmers.