Swimming and diving team travels to Arena Grand Prix

Swimming and diving team travels to Arena Grand Prix

The University of Alabama’s swimming and diving teams will attend this week’s Arena Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, which starts on Thursday and will finish on Saturday. UA Athletics

The Grand Prix, the second of six events in the 2014-15 Arena Pro Swim Series, will feature six different University of Alabama athletes all hailing from different countries. Anton McKee (Iceland), Kristian Gkolomeev (Greece), Brett Walsh (South Africa), Pavel Romanov (Russia), Emma Saunders (England) and Kaylin Burchell (USA) will all participate in the Grand Prix.

The Grand Prix will take place in “long course” 50-meter pools, which are the same size as the pools used in international events such as the World Championships and the Olympics as opposed to the “short course” 25-meter pools, in which NCAA events take place.

“We have two parallel things going on with our top athletes,” coach Dennis Pursley said. “One is to do everything we can to prepare to be at our best in the upcoming NCAA championship competitions. At the same time, many of them are preparing to try to qualify for the opportunity to represent their respective countries in 
international competition.”

Pursley said the selected athletes participating in this week’s event don’t need to be fully rested because the event will serve as more of a tune-up and an opportunity to get experience swimming in a larger pool. The actual qualifying meets for the international competitions will come later in the year.

“We do not want to deviate from or compromise our preparation for the other championship competitions which will soon follow,” he said.

This will serve as the second to last event for the participating athletes before they compete in the SEC Championships, which take place in Auburn in mid-February. The swimming and diving team’s last full meet will take place Jan. 23, when it hosts the University of Cincinnati.

“We are continuing to close the gap between us and the top ranked teams in the country, that is our goal,” Pursley said. “As long as we are improving and closing the gap that eventually we are going to be competing for those championship titles. I think this team has continued to progress this year. We are not probably where we ultimately want to be in any respect, yet, but we are getting closer and closer.”

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