Dec. 2, 2009
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -
At the halfway point in the Alabama swimming and diving team's season, the Crimson Tide is featured prominently in the NCAA's individual rankings, including 13 swims that are among the top-10 in the nation and two that stand at No. 1. Alabama has also put up 24 swims that figure in the top-25 nationally.
"We have a veteran team that has grown and matured over the last couple of years and these kinds of performances are indicative of where we are and where we are headed," Alabama head coach Eric McIlquham said. "To have this kind of showing on a national level is where we want to be and we want to keep improving and moving forward. We have 17 weeks until the Southeastern Conference Championships and we want to do everything we can to keep getting better and make a big splash when the postseason rolls around."
Senior Mark Randall is ranked No. 1 in the nation in both the 500 and 1650 freestyles and is also fifth in the 1000 freestyle. Junior Catalin Cosma is also ranked in the top 10 in the distance events, coming seventh in the 500 freestyle and eighth in the 1650 freestyle. He is also 25th in the 200 freestyle.
"Mark is having a great senior season to this point and our distance and middle distance group as a whole is doing a tremendous job," McIlquham said. "We have five guys ranked in the top 75 in the 500 freestyle and four that are in the top 50 in the 200 freestyle."
Senior Riley Boulden is ranked third in the 200 breaststroke, sixth in the 100 breaststroke and seventh in the 200 individual medley. Junior Denes Zbucsek is fifth in the 200 butterfly and 21st in the 100 butterfly while sophomore Joe Ziegler is eighth in the 200 backstroke and 23rd in the 100 backstroke. Junior Daniel Armstrong is 12th in the 100 breaststroke and freshman Anestis Arampatzis is 20th in the 200 butterfly.
On the women's side of the slate, senior Agustina de Giovanni is third in the 200 breaststroke, fourth in the 100 breaststroke and 10th in the 200 IM. Junior Kate Shannon Gray is ranked in the top 20 in two events, coming in 17th in the 200 IM and 19th in the 400 IM. Freshman Jenna Gallo is 24th in the 1650 freestyle.
"I don't think there's any doubt that Agustina is one of the nation's premier athletes," McIlquham said. "I'm really looking forward to seeing what she'll do when the championship season gets here."
The Crimson Tide's diving corps is also having a tremendous season, with senior Aaron Fleshner and sophomore Carrie Dragland both leading the Southeastern Conference both in scores and in SEC Diver of the Week honors as well as figuring among the nation's best this season.
"Our divers are doing a tremendous job and just keep getting better each week," McIlquham said. "It's another area where we not only have front line talent, but we're extremely deep as well."