Tide swimming and diving one meet away from nationals

CW Staff

The Alabama Crimson Tide men’s swimming and diving team is headed to the NCAA Zone B Championships in Atlanta, this weekend.

The meet will be hosted by Georgia Tech and will be held at the Yellow Jackets’ aquatic center on Friday. The Zone Championships are the last round of qualifying before the NCAA National Championships held in Columbus, Ohio in late March.

Getting the team ready for a match of this magnitude is not a difficult task. To pump up his team, head coach Eric McIlquham said his plan of action is to recap their successful season.

“It starts with the beginning of the year. You talk about working your way back with these guys, back to the dual meets and back to the SECs,” McIlquham said. “Then it’s about the next step in the process, it’s the next part of the road, it’s about where we want to be for our final destination.”

As for the quality of competition at this weekend’s match, the Tide will be working hard for every point.

“Where we’re falling, is somewhere in the top twenties, but there are about thirty teams battling it out for those positions,” McIlquham said.

Going up against championship-winning teams like Auburn (who took the top spot six times in the past 10 years), Texas and Arizona, the Tide will have to be on top of their game in the water for the next three days.

“The SEC competition is always pretty stout out there, but the bottom line is, what I always tell the kids is, we can only control what we do and we don’t worry about what other people do,” McIlquham said. “We take care of what needs to be done, and everything else will fall into place.”

Two of the Tide’s most prominent divers, Aaron Fleshner and Adam Booher, will be earning points on the board for the team. All-American diver Booher made it to the Zone B Championships once before as a freshman. Fleshner, a senior All-American, will be headed to the championships for the fourth time and hopes to make the podium for Alabama yet again.

This will be All-American free-style swimmer Mark Randall’s fourth time in his collegiate career qualifying for the Zone B Championships as well.

This being his final competition, he said he is not looking at it as his last but as just one more race.

“I’m just looking at it as my next race, and I’ll just go in there and improve upon what I’ve done,” Randall said. “Just do my best.”

He is currently seeded No. 3 in the nation in the 500 freestyle and No. 7 in the mile.

“If I finish top three in the 500, that would be great, but I’m just looking to improve my position over all and swim my best times.”