Trying to figure out if this is a fixed phrase, or a grammatical construction I'm just unfamiliar with. It's from a children's version of Le Comte de Monte-Cristo. See the bolded portion:
Certains vieux pêcheurs disent l'avoir connue.
I understand this as Certain old fishermen say they knew her, but the grammar confuses me. I would have thought it would be this:
Certains vieux pêcheurs disent qu'ils l'ont connue.
Can I get an explanation of the grammar in the first sentence, and also some insight as to why my version is wrong or not well-phrased?