By (Cody Estremera)

The Alabama swimming teams takes on Delta State on Friday for the first meet of the year. This meet is the first step towards building the foundation for the whole year.

“It serves a lot of purpose,” coach Dennis Pursley said. “We can see our freshman for the first time. It’s one of the many things that we will consider in identifying who makes the travel squad for the meets to follow. It’s a real early gauge to see where we are, for the individual athletes.”

The Delta State meet is usually more for the freshmen. Here they get to experience the crowd and the competition that comes with college swimming.

“I’m really pleased with what I see in practice every day,” Pusley said. “This will be their first opportunity, so their nerves will probably be a little higher than normal for them. We [the coaches] will look to see how they handle that. You can learn a lot from competition that you don’t learn in practice. All signs are good that we have a good group. I’m excited to see how they do.”

There are 11 freshmen on the roster, six men and five women. Men’s senior captain Carlo Rezzonico believes the freshmen are going to be a good boost for the team this upcoming year. but he told them not to get too excited.

“We want to get to that point of winning the NCAA,” Rezzonico said. “We want to build a legacy. The main thing for us this year is getting everyone on the same page, and everyone stepping up to score the points that we missed last year. It’s going to be a team effort. Everyone is going to need to push each other at practice to be the best we can be.

The men’s team finished sixth place at the NCAA finals last March, the team’s highest finish since 1983. Ranked No. 11 this year, Alabama believes that it can take that next step to compete for the NCAA championship.

The women’s team also ranked this year, at No. 23, hope to follow the trend the Crimson Tide has set the past couple of years. Women’s captain Mia Nonnenburg said there is a lot of unfinished business. She thinks the team has an awesome energy and we are all motivated and confident in our abilities. The team has a lot of big goals. Focusing on the small things and the details is how the women’s team can get closer to the top rankings.

Last year against Delta State, the Crimson Tide won both the men’s and the women’s meets by a substantial margin. The men’s team won by a score of 213-49. The women’s team won with a slightly higher score of 219-42.

“We usually race Delta State first race of the year,” Nonnenburg said. “It’s a good way to kick off the season and get an idea where we are at. It shows what areas we need to improve and what we need to work on most in training.”

The two teams flip locations of this meet every year. This year is Tuscaloosa’s turn to host the Statesmen.

“It’s always more fun at home,” Pursley said. “There’s the home crowd, you are in your own house and that’s something we prefer, but none of the highest priority meets are at home. We have to be able not to depend on the home environment.”

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports