Christopher Reid made a jump that few high school students would think about. At the age of 18, he decided to go half way around the world and attend the University of Alabama. He has made his mark on the team and has figured out how to be successful in a new country.
Reid left South Africa in 2014 after being named a Youth Olympic game finalist. He joined a Crimson Tide team that had made a huge jump from top 30 in the country to 12th in the country, since head coach Dennis Pursley took over.
“I followed my gut,” Reid said. “I saw that big jump, it showed the ball was rolling something was going right.”
Associate head coach Jonty Skinner was a big reason Reid decided to join the Crimson Tide. Reid felt that since Skinner is from South Africa, Skinner would understand Reid more than other coaches around the country.
When Pursley started the recruiting process for Reid, he was initially a distance swimmer. However, Pursley soon realized that Reid was much better in the short distance events.
Reid, now in his junior season, competes in the 100 and 200 backstroke. Unlike most of the swimmers on the team, he doesn’t train with his teammates in the same events. Instead, he mainly trains with the IM group still.
“He was doing so well in the group we decided to keep him in that group,” Pursley said. “It has worked out pretty well.”
Reid has thrived under the different training style. He has been the NCAA championship and the SEC championship every year since arriving at Alabama.
For swimmers, the biggest stage in the world is the Olympics. Every four years the best athletes in the world emerge to participate for their countries. Reid was one of these athletes who, donned his country’s colors to compete.
In the South African trials, Reid dominated, winning the 100-meter backstroke by three seconds and setting a school record in the 200-meter backstroke.
“It was a relief for me,” Reid said. “The older guys were always better than me. This was my first time back to race. A lot of those guys thought of me as the guy who was still kind of slow. It was like I finally made it.”
In the Olympics he competed in the 100-meter backstroke and finished 10th in the world.
“It was pretty cool, to be honest,” Reid said. “I try not to think about it because 10th is an accomplishment but I don’t feel that’s the best I can do. I just use it as a motivating factor.”
The Olympics has motivated him in his junior season. For the first time in his career, he won the 200 backstroke at the SEC championships, beating his teammate Connor Oslin. Reid’s time, 1:39.64, set a new school record.
“The moment I saw it [winning the race] I let all my emotions go,” Reid said. “I’ve been so close so many times. No one really thinks how hard it actually is to get a championship title. You lose your composure and just go nuts.”
However, even though he set his new career best, Reid believes he hasn’t even unlocked his true potential.
“The SECs was kind of a test run for NCAAs,” Reid said. “Going into the SECs I was thinking I just needed a time to be invited to NCAAs, but ended up swimming an automatic qualifying time. Now all I have to think about is what I have to do going into NCAAs.”
Alabama will compete in the NCAA Championships on March 22 at 10:50 a.m. CT.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports