Crimson Tide Top 5: Men’s Swimming

Throughout the month of June, Bama Central writers will pick the best five players in each Alabama sport, and for each position group in football
Author:
Updated:
Original:

For every entry into our Crimson Tide Top 5 series, the focus has been solely on what each player accomplished while at the University of Alabama.

That's what makes determining the greatest five male Crimson Tide swimmers a challenge because you can't factor in world competitions or the Olympics for the most part. 

As a whole, Alabama's program has produced nearly 100 Olympians since the 1972 Games in Moscow. 

Beginning next season, the Crimson Tide will look to build on that foundation and usher in a new era under the leadership of first-year head coach Margo Greer, who was a 27-time All-American and three-time NCAA champion at Arizona. 

Greer has also been a long-time member of Team USA where she has medaled at events like the 2015 World Championships, the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships, the 2019 World Championships and the 2019 Pan American Games. 

5. Glenn Mills

Mills was inducted into the Alabama Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame in large part to his 200 breaststroke title for the Crimson Tide at the 1983 NCAA Championships and seven All-American honors. 

He has set Masters World records in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke.

Three years prior to winning a national title, he was a member of the 1980 U.S Olympic Team, who boycotted the Games in Russia. Mills and his fellow teammates received the Congressional Gold Medal.

4. Anton McKee

McKee bookended his Alabama career with two SEC titles in the 200 breaststroke, once in 2014 as a freshman then in 2017 as a senior. He is also an 11-time All-American. 

Along with winning the SEC title in the 200 breaststroke in 2017, McKee placed second at the NCAA Championships in the event with a time of 1:51.22, which is a school record and he became the only Crimson Tide swimmer to ever finish under 1:52. 

McKee was named to First-Team All-SEC twice and was the 2017 SEC Swimming and Diving Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

3. Jon Olsen

Olsen is Alabama's most decorated Olympian of all time, winning a total of five medals. His bronze medal came in the 800 freestyle relay in the 1992 Olympic Games, while his four other medals were all gold, two in the 400 medley and freestyle relays in 1992 and two in the 400 and 800 freestyle relays in 1996.

However at Alabama, he was a five-time SEC champion and the runner-up at the 1991 NCAA Championships in the 100 freestyle. After every one of his four seasons in Tuscaloosa, Olsen was named MVP of the team.

In 1993, he earned four more gold medals in the 50 and 100 freestyle and 400 freestyle and medley relay at the Pan-Pacific Games, where he was a captain for Team USA. 

2. Zane Waddell

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Waddell's Crimson Tide career was cut short in 2020 ahead of the NCAA Championships. However, he still accomplished a great deal during his senior season.

In 2020, Waddell won the SEC Commissioner's Trophy, which is given to the highest individual point scorer at the SEC Championships, and he was named the league's Swimming and Diving Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

His senior season saw him earn All-American honors in six different events — 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay, 400 medley relay.

As junior, Waddell was a part of the Crimson Tide's 200 medley relay team at the NCAA Championships that won the national title. That summer, he became a world champion in the 50 backstroke at two different events, the FINA World Games and World University Games.

1. Vladislav Polyakov

Polyakov won five SEC titles, two NCAA championships and two U.S Open titles during his time at the Capstone. At the 2007 NCAA Championships, he won the 200 meter backstroke with a time of 1:52.71, which was the third-fastest time in the sport's history. 

He eventually became a three-time Olympian for Kazakstan in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. Polyakov earned All-American honors 12 times throughout his collegiate career. 

Polyakov is currently the Associate Head Swimming Coach at Auburn, after previously serving at Louisville, where he spent nine seasons as an assistant and men's recruiting coordinator.

The Crimson Tide Top 5 will appear every day during the month of June on BamaCentral.

Crimson Tide Top 5: Introduction

Linebackers

Softball

Tight Ends

Women's Basketball

Specialists

Women's Golf

Offensive Line

Men's Golf

Quarterbacks

Baseball

Defensive Linemen

Women's Tennis