Jonty Skinner, who held the world record in the 100-meter freestyle from 1976-81 and won the Crimson Tide's first individual NCAA Championship in 1975, has coached at the highest levels for the past 30 years
Former world record holder, NCAA Champion and International Hall of Famer Jonty Skinner is currently in his third stint as an Alabama swimming and diving coach after rejoining the Crimson Tide in the summer of 2012 as a member of head coach Dennis Pursley's staff.
"We could not have a more qualified coach than Jonty Skinner," Pursley said. "As a former world record holder and coach of Olympic gold medalists and national championship teams, Jonty has done it all at the highest levels of national and international competition. He is primarily responsible for our sprint program but all of the swimmers and coaches on the team will benefit from his broad range of experience and expertise."
After joining the staff as an assistant in the summer of 2012, Skinner was promoted to associate head coach following the 2013 season. In addition to his coaching duties, Skinner serves as the Tide's technical director, a post he previously held with both USA Swimming and British Swimming.
During the 2013-14 season, Skinner coached rookie Kristian Gkolomeev to the NCAA 50 freestyle title, the first 50 championship in Crimson Tide history. Skinner's group also accounted for seven individual school records and five relay marks. Overall, Alabama rewrote its record board, bettering 19 swimming marks.
Skinner first came to the Capstone in the fall of 1974 as a sprinter on one of legendary Tide coach Don Gambril's first teams. He made an immediate impact, winning Alabama's first NCAA championship as a freshman in 1975 when he touched the wall first in the 100 freestyle. Skinner went on to shatter the world record in the 100-meter freestyle during the summer of 1976, setting a standard that would endure until 1981.
After graduation, the 19-time All-American started his coaching career under Gambril as an Alabama assistant. From there he went on to a highly successful stint as head coach of the San Jose Aquatics Club, where his teams won a USA Senior National team championship and five USA Junior National team titles.
After returning to Tuscaloosa in the late 1980s as associate head coach, Skinner took over the head coaching reins in 1990 when Gambril retired. Skinner capped his four-year tenure as the Tide's head coach by leading both the men and women to top-10 national finishes in 1994, the same year he was named the SEC Women's Coach of the Year.
In the summer of 1994, Pursley, then the director of the USA National Team, chose Skinner as the inaugural coach of United States Swimming's Resident National Team at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. From there Skinner went on to coach some of the world's top swimmers at the elite national and international level.
"I'm excited to be back in Tuscaloosa, back at the University of Alabama, and to have this amazing chance to work with Dennis again," Skinner said. "He and I have worked together for a number of years at both USA and British Swimming and we're both excited to use what we've learned about swimming and coaching at the international level and apply it at the collegiate level."
Skinner-coached swimmers have won 18 national titles and 20 Olympic medals - including 17 gold. He has also produced two Kipputh Award winners. Alabama standout Jon Olsen stands tall among Skinner's former pupils. Following an All-America career at the Capstone, Olsen won five Olympic medals - including four that were gold - under Skinner's tutelage. Olsen still holds the Alabama 100 and 200 freestyle school records.
During his own swimming career, Skinner captured four national titles to go with his NCAA title and five years as the world record holder in the 100m freestyle. In 1986 he was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
After six years as the head coach of the USA Resident National Team, Skinner spent the next eight years as USA Swimming's Director of Performance Science and Technology, coordinating all of the testing, tracking and assessment of U.S. National Team members. From 2009-12, he worked in a similar capacity with British Swimming.
In addition to his work with the USA and British national teams, Skinner founded Athletic Intelligence Consulting to further his work and research in neuroscience and how it relates to elite level training and competition.
"Jonty is a proven leader in cutting edge science and technology as it applies to competitive swimming," Pursley said. "His experience in working with many of the world's top swimmers and coaches provides a wealth of knowledge to our program. He is a great motivator and proven winner who is passionately committed to helping his swimmers become the best that they can be."
Skinner's latest stint with the Crimson Tide is a result of a perfect convergence of people, place and challenges.
"There's no doubt that Alabama is a very special place and I can't imagine doing this anywhere else," Skinner said. "The opportunity to coach with Dennis and live and work in such a tradition-rich environment was something I just couldn't pass up."