The announcement was made by Alabama Swimming and Diving Coach Eric McIlquham
"James is a tremendous addition to our program and we are happy to have him on board," McIlquham said. "As an Alabama native and life-long Crimson Tide fan, he has great respect for this school and program. He has excelled at all levels of coaching and brings a great depth of knowledge to the deck. Having coached extensively in this state, he is familiar with the area and the resources we have available to us."
A native Alabamian, Barber said he relishes the chance to work with McIlquham and associate head coach Sonya Porter and to return to his home state and coach the Crimson Tide.
"They say home is where the heart is, and my heart has always been with The University of Alabama," Barber said. "When I found I had an opportunity to come to The University I simply could not pass it up. It is incredible being a member of the Alabama family, to be in a place that puts such high value in excellence at every level and provides their athletes and coaches with every resource necessary to succeed. This is every coach's and athlete's dream."
In addition to more than a decade of collegiate and age-group coaching, Barber also worked with former Alabama swimmer and head coach Jonty Skinner as an assistant coach with the United States Resident National Team in Colorado Springs, Co. While there he worked with several world class athletes, including Amy Van Dyken and B.J. Bedford. Van Dyken was the first American female athlete to win four gold medals in a single Olympiad (Atlanta, 1996).
Prior to joining the Crimson Tide, Barber was in charge of the distance group at Florida State the past three seasons, where he coached athletes to school record marks in the 500, 1000 and 1650 freestyles as well as coaching the Seminoles first All-American in the mile. One of his athletes was named ACC Swimmer of the Meet at the recent conference championships.
As an age-group coaching, Barber mentored 18 Junior National qualifiers in over 40 events, 20 national age group top 16 performers. His athletes also earned 21 titles at the Southeastern Swimming Championships.
Barber joined the Seminoles in 2004 after a six year run as the head coach at Club Makos in Gulf Breeze, Fla., where he produced national caliber swimmers.
He got his first coaching job as the head age group coach for the Montgomery YMCA Barracudas. From there he moved to Mobile, where he served as Senior Coach for the City of Mobile Swim Association while pursing his master's degree. Taking over a rather inexperienced program, he built the team up to the point where they were regular finalists at the LSC meet. His next coaching stint had him in the same position for the Colorado Spring Swim Team while also coaching the US National Team.
Barber graduated with a bachelor's degree in exercise science in 1996 from Auburn University at Montgomery and obtained a Master's Degree in exercise physiology from the University of South Alabama.
A native of Prattville, Barber is married to the former Angie Bixler.