Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Former Olympic swimmer joins Crimson Tide for spring

Former Olympian Kristian Gkolomeev, who hails from Athens, Greece, has joined Alabama’s swimming and diving team for the spring semester. Gkolomeev arrived in Tuscaloosa early Wednesday morning after a trip that included several lengthy layovers.

Gkolomeev competed for Greece in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England, and placed 31st in the 100-meter freestyle. He also competed at the 15th FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain, this summer. There, with a time of 22.62 seconds in the 50-meter freestyle, he placed 24th, and was the second youngest swimmer among those who finished in the top 25.

Gkolomeev enrolled in classes Wednesday, just a few short hours after arriving in Tuscaloosa and will take part in Saturday’s meet against Kentucky.

Head coach Dennis Pursley said he is excited about what Gkolomeev can bring to the team.

“He’s got the potential to really be a difference maker for us,” Pursley said. “He can really, in combination with his teammates, help us get to this next level.”

While Gkolomeev will compete this weekend, Pursley is tapering expectations a bit after more than 50 hours of travel this week due to the weather.

“I don’t want to put the weight of the world on his shoulders just stepping off the plane,” Pursley said. “Whether we can expect him to be at his best this weekend under the circumstances might not be fair to him. We’re happy to have him on board, and we’ll give him a chance to see where he is on the weekend.”

This Saturday, the men’s team will take on Kentucky, while the women will compete against both Kentucky and Arkansas. It’s a big meet for the Crimson Tide, and one of the final three meets prior to the SEC Championships in Athens, Ga., in February.

Pursley said he has confidence in his team heading into the meet.

“The lineups on paper, we’re pretty evenly matched,” Pursley said. “We think we stack up fairly well with both of our opponents. This is the perfect opportunity to get that [consistency] established.”

Pursley, an Alabama graduate, inherited a difficult rebuilding job when he took the job last year, but said he feels the team is making strides in his second season.

“We feel like we are one of the most improved teams in the conference this year on paper, but so is Kentucky, and probably so is Arkansas on the women’s side,” Pursley said. We’re all three trying to climb the conference ladder.”

The addition of Gkolomeev will go a long way in helping Pursley and the Crimson Tide continue to climb that ladder as they look to continue the ascent toward the upper echelon of SEC teams.

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