Sophomores BJ Hornikel and Alex Coci both earned bids to the upcoming NCAA Championships
Stefan Gherghel brings his experience as one of the fastest athletes in the history of collegiate swimming to the deck in his sixth year as an assistant coach.
"Stefan's been there, up on those blocks, competing at the highest level and that's nothing but an asset to our kids," head coach Eric McIlquham said. "When things get tough in a set, he's the first one to get in there and encourage our athletes to finish strong because he knows what it takes, he knows what being tough in those moments means down the road. He's competed at the highest level for a very, very long time."
Gherghel works primarily with the Tide's stroke group with a special emphasis on the butterfly lane.
He has coached seven athletes to 25 national titles. Gherghel has also coached four different swimmers to a place on the world top-100 list.
The first two-time NCAA Champion in Alabama's storied history, Gherghel won back-to-back NCAA 200 butterfly crowns in 2002 and 2003.
His winning time at the 2003 championship ranked third all-time in the 200 butterfly behind Olympic champions Pablo Morales and Melvin Stewart.
In another tie to Olympic champions, on his way to his first NCAA title, Gherghel smashed the long-standing 200 butterfly school record then held by 1984 Olympic Gold medalist Jon Sieben.
Internationally, Gherghel has been a force. He competed at his third Olympiad during the summer of 2008 in Beijing, resetting the Romanian national record in the semi-finals of the 200m butterfly. He also swam the 100m butterfly in China and as part of the 400m medley relay that set a new Romanian national record.
He earned a silver medal in the 200m butterfly at the 2004 FINA World Championships and was fifth in the 200 at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. He also competed for his native Romania at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
In addition to his two NCAA titles, Gherghel won a pair of Southeastern Conference 200 butterfly titles and earned seven All-America honors during his two-year Tide career. He still holds the Alabama 100 and 200 butterfly records and ranks fifth all-time for the Tide in the 100 backstroke.