Ziegler proving his worth

Ziegler+proving+his+worth

UA Athletics

Joe Zeigler swimming during the meet against LSU Oct. 23. This season, though only a junior, Zeigler strives to be a leader on the team. UA Athletics | Amelia J. Brackin

Chad Troyan

Everybody has some activity that has played a big part in their lives, and junior swimmer Joe Ziegler is no exception.

Ziegler has enjoyed being in water since his early childhood. His love of water and competition has since resulted in a productive swimming career at Alabama.

Ziegler swam as a member of the USA Junior National team in 2005-2008 and competed in the 2008 Victorian Championships in Melbourne, Australia. He won gold in the 800-meter freestyle and silver in the 400-meter freestyle relay.

As college approached, Ziegler considered many credentials when trying to pick a college. He later decided to take his talent to Tuscaloosa as he decided to attend Alabama.

“I wanted to attend a high-profile program,” Ziegler said. “I wanted to go somewhere where my swimming could improve the most. I had heard a lot of good things about the University. The school fit other qualities like good coaches, academics, well-rounded athletic department and being located in the South.”

Entering his career at the University, Ziegler knew he would have to put in extra effort in order for him to be competitive when swimming in the Southeastern Conference.

“I believe it takes tons of effort and focus when swimming in SEC,” Ziegler said. “It’s a great conference that has a wide range of talent.”

It would not take Ziegler long to make his own impact on Crimson Tide swim team. Ziegler said his most memorable meet was SEC’s during his freshman year.

“I made it back in all my events and made an impact on the men’s team performance as well,” Ziegler said. “That performance at SEC’s led to me qualifying for NCAA’s that year.”

During his time at Alabama, he has watched talented swimmers leave the team, which has led him to step up as a leader. But that thought doesn’t scare him, and he assures he is ready to lead the team.

Ziegler holds the school record in the 200-meter backstroke, and he has won six races in the team’s first two meets this year.

“I’m ready to lead this team,” Ziegler said. “Every year I return I feel more respected by my peers. I want it to be fun and successful.”

Former swimmer Riley Boulden once swam alongside Ziegler and is confident he has the qualities to be a good leader.

“He leads by example,” Boulden said. “He influences people by what he does in and out of the pool.”

Although he has swam with many talented swimmers during his career at the University, Ziegler has never felt overshadowed by other members of the team.

“I am respected plenty at Alabama,” Ziegler said. “The way I look at it is that some of those swimmers have achieved things I have yet to achieve. It can be intimidating, but I know if I work hard I can get there and achieve similar things.”

Boulden supported Ziegler when asked about whether Ziegler’s talent was ever overshadowed.

“I don’t know how the public saw him,” Boulden said. “I know on the team we all recognized his importance. He is a record holder.”

Ziegler admits to making personal goals for himself heading into a season.

“Yes, I do make goals, but they’re strictly for me,” Ziegler said. “These goals deal more with me trying to improve my abilities, so I’m not too worried about my outcomes.”

Ziegler is in his junior year and want to leave a legacy when he is finished swimming for the Tide.

“I want to be known as a positive leader,” Ziegler said. “I want to be an All-American and leave school records. I also want to be someone who has contributed to this program and [been] looked up to by peers.”

The men’s and women’s team will resume swimming at the UT Invitational in Knoxville, Tenn., from Nov. 18-20.