About The Program
Former UA swimmer and assistant coach Dennis Pursley became the head coach of the Alabama Swimming and Diving program in the spring of 2012, returning to the Capstone to lead one of the nation's most storied programs.
The Alabama Crimson Tide's history of excellence continues with Crimson Tide swimmers and divers earning more than a 150 All-American honors since 2000. The Tide has also won five individual NCAA titles since 2002, with Vlad Polyakov claiming the most recent title when he won his second NCAA 200 breaststroke title in 2007. Polyakov won his first NCAA title in 2005. In 2004, Lane Bassham won Alabama's first women's national diving title, taking first off the three-meter board at the NCAA Championships. She also took second off the one-meter board and was named NCAA Diver of Meet. That same year Pat Greenwell was named NCAA Diving Coach of the Meet as well as being named SEC Coach of the Year for the fifth time. Before Polyakov and Bassham, Stefan Gherghel won back-to-back 200 butterfly titles in 2002 and 2003.
Alabama's mentors have long been recognized as being among the nation's finest, including the legendary Don Gambril, who coached five U.S. Olympic teams, including a stint as head coach of the 1984 squad, as well as taking Alabama to a 270-49 combined career mark.
Current head coach Dennis Pursley returned to the deck of the Alabama Aquatic Center after stops as the national team director for USA Swimming, the head coach of the Australian Institute of Sport and head coach of British Swimming through the 2012 London Olympics.
Following Gambril's retirement from collegiate coaching after the 1990 season he handed the torch to his first NCAA Champion, Jonty Skinner. Skinner carved out his own mark, coaching both the men and the women back into the nation's top-10 and earning Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year honors in 1994. After that season, Skinner was tapped by United States Swimming to direct the U.S. Resident National Team, a program that prepared the nation's top athletes for Olympic competition. Chuck Horton and Don Wagner both served four-year stints with the Tide with Ed Reed serving as the interim coach in between the two for the 1999 season. Eric McIlquham coached the Tide for nine season through the end of 2012.
Diving has always been a point of pride for the Crimson Tide, which has seen its athletes win SEC Diver of the Year honors 11 times since 1981. The Tide's diving coaches, starting with Bob Webster in 1981, have earned SEC Diving Coach of the Year honors 10 times. Alabama's current diving mentor, Pat Greenwell, has earned the honor six times since 1990.
Alabama's swimming and diving program began with the 1959-60 season when the men’s team came into being under the late John Foster. Since that first season, the Crimson Tide men's program has put together an impressive run that includes over 350 dual meet wins and along with a pair of SEC team titles, both of which came under Gambril's tutelage. Alabama has finished in the top-10 at the NCAA Championships a dozen times including a program high second place finish in 1977. Individually, the Tide men have produced nine NCAA Champions with Gherghel and Polyakov joining a long line of winners.
Alabama's women came together as a team for the 1974-75 season under the tutelage of Gary Illman. Alabama's women have since put together over 200 dual meet wins over the past 30-plus years. In 1985, under Gambril's direction, Alabama's women won the Southeastern Conference title. The Tide has posted nine top-10 national finishes and earned seven individual national titles with Bassham earning the latest title.