Swimming and diving team advances to conference championship

After a successful year for the Alabama swimming and diving team, they will travel to College Station, Texas, to compete in the SEC Championships. Alabama will face all conference schools over the course of the week in hopes to gain conference practice and improved personal times.

This season was a building season for Alabama, which started off the year with a new coaching staff. Coach Dennis Pursley has been preparing his team for the hard-hitting competition the conference has in store and is now hoping personal times are improved during this weeklong meet.

“For the most part, I think we are prepared and ready to go,” Pursley said. “I’m expecting this to be the best meet of the career for all the swimmers on the team but that is a tough goal to achieve. We want to continue to take steps forward as far as the team dynamic is concerned and just laying the foundation to build on.”

Since its last meet, Alabama has been focusing on continuing to improve itself. Though the Tide isn’t looking for a championship finish, it is important to the team to stay on track and keep building as a team.

(See also "UA swimming and diving team prepares for conference meets")

Pursley is confident the team can and will achieve a conference championship. But compared to Texas A&M and Georgia, the team has many more steps to take before it is ready.

“We’re not positioned to be competing for a conference championship,” Pursley said. “We just don’t have enough swimmers at that level on the team for that to be a realistic goal. That is a long term goal that we want to achieve but it’s not going to happen this year.”

Because it’s a building year for Alabama, both the men and women will have the opportunity to compete for their best times of their careers.

“This year, our primary goal is for every swimmer on the team to have lifetime personal best performance in the conference championships,” Pursley said. “Our primary overriding goal is to develop the culture to build a championship program from and a culture that is based on our core values.”

Unlike previous SEC Championship meets, this meet will be bigger for the swimmers. Instead of having only 16 swimmers of each style advance to the NCAA championship, the SEC will now advance 24 swimmers of each style to the championships.

“It’s kind of balanced out,” Pursley said. “But we have brought two strong teams to the conference. It’s going to take a comparable performance even though there is 24 spots as opposed to 16, it’s going to take a certain level of performance to get back to the finals as it did before so that part of it is not really going to change a lot.”

Alabama will be competing in College Station from Feb. 19-22.

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