Swimming and Diving Opens Season Saturday at the Alabama Aquatic Center

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM Junior All-American Kristel Vourna finished 12th in the 100m butterfly at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Junior All-American Kristel Vourna finished 12th in the 100m butterfly at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Oct. 5, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama men's and women's swimming and diving teams open their season this Saturday with a home meet against Delta State beginning at 1 p.m. CT in the Alabama Aquatic Center.

"We're really excited about it and looking forward to it," Dennis Pursley, who is in his inaugural season as Alabama's head coach, said. "Of course we're very early in the training season as is Delta State and all the other teams for that matter. It is an early season competition but it will give us an idea to see where we are at this point, which will help us going forward."

The Crimson Tide women will be led by junior All-American and 2012 Olympian Kristel Vourna, junior Paige McCleary, as well as sophomores Kaylin Burchell and Angely Martinez. All four women earned a place in the "A" final of the 2012 Southeastern Conference Championships. The Tide will also look to its large rookie class to make an immediate impact, with 11 of 25 student-athletes on this year's roster coming from the freshman class.

The men's will look to All-American junior BJ Hornikel as well as seniors Reese Shirey and Anestis Arampatzis, all of which finished in the "A" final of last year's SEC Championships, to kick-start the Tide's season. In addition to 25 veterans, there are six rookies on the men's side of the slate, all of which will be looking to add to an already solid lineup.

In addition to being the opening meet of the 2012-13 season, Saturday will also serve as the beginning of the Dennis Pursley era at Alabama. The Louisville, Ky., native swam for the Tide's first coach, John Foster, and went on to serve under Alabama legend Don Gambril's first staff in the mid-1970s. As a swimmer, Pursley would earn All-SEC honors and an SEC 200 breaststroke title, during his Crimson Tide tenure.

Following his initial stint with the Tide in the 1970s, Pursley worked at the highest echelon of the sport - including 14 years as director of the USA National Team as well as coaching the Australian Institute of Sport and the 2012 British Olympic team - before returning to the Capstone this fall.

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