Oct. 9, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -
For the Alabama Swimming and Diving teams, this Saturday brings the second meet of the season and its first road trip as the Crimson Tide travels south to take on the Florida State Seminoles. For rookie Joe Ziegler, Saturday will also be a homecoming as he returns to his hometown of Tallahassee with his Tide teammates.
Ziegler will have plenty of friends and family in the stands, but make no mistake, this is no social call for the Leon High School graduate who swam for the Area Tallahassee Aquatic Club.
"I have a lot of good friends that are coming out and I have a lot of close friends on the Florida State team," Ziegler said. "It will be fun going back, but it's more of a business trip than a casual home visit."
Ziegler got his Alabama career off to a fast start, winning his first race as a member of the Tide, the 1000 freestyle two weeks ago at home against Delta State. He also took top honors in the 200 backstroke.
"It was great, just getting up there and racing," Ziegler said. "That's one of the things about Alabama, no matter who else is in the meet you know that your teammates are going to push you. You're never going to have an easy time winning a race."
The high level of competition found among his Alabama teammates is one of the reasons Ziegler, a member of the United States National Junior Team, chose the Tide.
"The training is much more intense," Ziegler said. "And I really like the fact that at Alabama I'm surrounded by great swimmers and I'm challenged every day. I came to Alabama because I felt it was the best fit. It has strong academics, great coaches, great student-athlete services, a lot of talent and it is a place where I could have a great college experience."
As part of the U.S. National Team, Ziegler competed at the 2008 Victorian Championships in Melbourne, Australia, winning gold as part of the 800m freestyle relay, and at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships. Winner of seven Florida State titles, he was named Leon's MVP four years in a row and holds seven school records.