Head coach Steve Bultman is, by percentage, the winningest coach currently at Texas A&M University, a school not only known for its athletic prowess but its multitude of traditions and rabid fan base.
Bultman has the Aggies in the midst of one of the strongest four-year runs by any sport in Texas A&M history. Over the past four seasons, Bultman's Aggies have won three Big 12 team crowns and posted four top 10 national team finishes, including a program-best No. 4 placing at the 2008 NCAA Championships.
The recent run of success hit high gear in 2007, when Bultman coached the Aggies to their greatest swimming and diving achievement in school history: their first-ever Big 12 championship won in storybook fashion by a single point after the final race. The 2007 season was a veritable checklist of program firsts: first undefeated dual meet record, first Big 12 championship, first top 10 NCAA finish, winning 15 of 18 races at the conference meet.
The 2008 season was even better -- winning 17 of 18 Big 12 races then following that up with a school record fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships that saw the Aggies a mere handful of points from second place.
In 2009, even though the Aggies were competing with the services of three All-Americans for various reasons, the Aggies nearly pulled off a monumental upset by taking eventual champion Texas the final day of the Big 12 Championships before succumbing to the Longhorns. The Aggies went on to log a No. 8 finish at the NCAA championships.
The Aggies added another Big 12 Championship to their trophy case last year while winning 13 of 18 events in their home pool. A&M went on to a No. 6 finish at the NCAA Championships with the highlight of the meet being the first two NCAA individual champions in school history. In back to back races, Julia Wilkinson and Alia Atkinson won NCAA titles in the 100 freestyle and the 200 breaststroke.
Rome wasn't built in a day however. Texas A&M achieved its lofty goals over the last four years after step-by-step improvement each year. After finishing out of the points at NCAA's in 2003, the Aggies jumped all the way to 16th in 2004 when the national meet was held in College Station. A year later, A&M was up two more places to 14th. The arrival of the Class of 2009 on campus put the Aggies on the cusp of the top 10 with an 11th-place finish in 2006. Their continued improvement along with a few key additions vaulted the Aggies to consecutive top 10 NCAA finishes from 2007-10.
A&M has not just been successful at the collegiate level the past few years. The Aggies put four current team members into the 2008 Olympics, including Texas A&M's first-ever USA team member (Christine Marshall). Marshall earned a bronze medal for her part on the 800-freestyle relay. Triin Aljand, Alia Atkinson, and Julia Wilkinson all set national records at the Olympics with Wilkinson qualifying for three finals and having a part in five Canadian national records.
In 2009, Bultman led the United States women's team, which included Aggies Kristen Heiss and Emily Neal, at the 2009 World University Games in Belgrade, Serbia. In addition, Melanie Dodds represented Canada at the World University Games. Heiss earned four medals in Belgrade - a gold, two silvers and a bronze - with three individual medals in the 200 backstroke and the 200 and 400 freestyles and a gold with the 800 free relay.
Three of Bultman's swimmers - Wilkinson, Aljand and Rita Medrano -- earned spots in the 2009 FINA World Championships, and Wilkinson reached a Championship final with Canada's 800 free relay.
The A&M program has been built steadily with hard work, solid training, and faith in the principles taught by Bultman which enable swimmers to reach times and goals that they have never even considered.
"I feel like we can help anyone improve as a swimmer," Bultman says. "Our coaching staff devotes a lot of time to each individual on a daily basis. We spend a great deal of time on stroke technique through drills, videotaping and constant feedback which we feel is a key component of our program."
The coaching veteran came to Aggieland after serving four years as an assistant coach for both the men's and women's programs at the University of Georgia. In 1999, he helped guide the Bulldogs to the national title at the NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships held in Athens, Ga. During his tenure at Georgia, the Bulldogs never finished worse than fifth at the national championship meet. In addition he helped guide the Bulldogs to three American records over his last two seasons in Athens.
In 1997, Bultman helped lead Georgia to its first-ever Southeastern Conference women's swimming championship, a feat the Bulldogs repeated in his final two seasons there.
Bultman also coached the Athens Bulldog Swim Club team, which had two individual national champions under his direction and placed eight swimmers on national teams at the 1997 summer national meet. In 1998, he helped coach one national champion and placed 12 swimmers on national teams. He was the 1999 Georgia Senior Coach of the Year.
Bultman was also selected as an assistant women's coach at the USS National Junior Team competition in England.
Prior to his time at UGA, Bultman was head coach for the Dynamo Swim Club from 1991-95. In 1995, he was named the Georgia Senior Coach of the Year, and in 1993 he placed a swimmer on the USS National Junior Team.
Bultman spent the 1990-91 season as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Louisiana State University, where he helped restart the men's varsity program as a swimmer in the 1966-67 season. After his collegiate career, Bultman also helped coach the Tigers during the 1969-70 season.
Between his two coaching stints at LSU, Bultman spent 21 years as one of the nation's top club coaches. He started as the head swim coach for the Lynn Park Piranha Swim Club in New Orleans in 1970, where he also coached the Jesuit and St. Martin's High School teams. St. Martin's won two girls state championships, while Jesuit's boys team was state runner-up four consecutive years.
From 1975-79, Bultman guided the Pensacola Junior College Aquatic Club, where he developed several senior and junior national qualifiers and high school all-Americans. He was also coach of the Pensacola Junior College team. Bultman then left Florida for Tennessee, where he worked with former Australian and Canadian Olympic Coach Don Talbot at the Nashville Aquatic Club. During his one-year stay in Nashville, Bultman had the opportunity to work with such world-class swimmers as Tracy Caulkins.
In 1980, Bultman returned to Pensacola, Fla., and rejoined the re-named Greater Pensacola Aquatic Club. He spent the better part of the 1980's in the national and international limelight, highlighted by serving as an assistant coach for the U.S. Olympic Team. Three of Bultman's prodigies swam in Seoul, with one garnering a silver medal. The four-time Southeastern Swimming Coach of the Year from 1985-88 had at least one individual USS National Champion per year over that span.
Nationally known for his development of swimmers to the national and international level, Bultman placed two swimmers on the 1987 USS Pan Pacific Team, two swimmers on the 1986 USS Goodwill Games Team and one swimmer on the 1985 USS Pan Pacific Team. In addition to being on the prestigious teams, all of Bultman's pupils medaled in their respective international competitions.
Uponleaving Pensacola, Bultman moved to Boca Raton, Fla., where he directed the Mission Bay Makos and continued his development of
high caliber athletes. In 1989, he had one USS National Champion and qualified two swimmers for the USS Pan Pacific Team. In his final season before leaving to return to his alma mater, Bultman had two USS National Champions and qualified three swimmers for both the LEN Cup Team and the 1991 World Championship Team. Bultman was also named an assistant coach for the USS LEN Cup Team.
All totaled, Bultman has served as the U.S. head coach at the 2001 and 2009 World University Games, an assistant coach of the 1998 and 2000 USS Women's National Junior Team, 1991 Three Nations Distance Camp, 1990 LEN Cup Team, 1988 Olympic Team, 1987 Pre-Olympic Training Camp and 1985 Pan Pacific Team. In addition, he served as the head men's coach at the 1993 USS National Team Training Camp.
An accomplished speaker, Bultman has spoken at countless events, including the 1986 Coaches College, 1988 Olympic Solidarity Elite Coaches Association Seminar, 1989 American Swim Coaches Association World Clinic, 1992 Pacific Swim Coaches Association Clinic, 1994 VII International Symposium on Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming, 1992 and 1999 Georgia Swim Coaches Clinic, 1999 and 2005 CSCAA Coaches Convention, 2001 TISCA High School Coaches Clinic, 2004 Pacific Northwest Swim Coaches Clinic, and twice at the Louisiana Coaches Clinics.
The New Orleans, La., native earned his bachelor of science degree in psychology from Louisiana State University in 1970. He went on to receive his certification in physical education from Tulane University in 1975 and then earned his master's degree in physical education from the University of West Florida in 1979.