For the second time in his career, Texas A&M’s Steve Bultman will be an assistant U.S. Olympic swimming coach.
And the Aggies’ head women’s swimming coach has a beefed-up resume worthy of the position.
A&M has nine female swimmers and one diver set to represent seven countries at the London Olympics beginning Friday. The group includes four former A&M swimmers. All 10 competed for the Aggies under Bultman.
“It says we can help take you as a swimmer to the highest level,” Bultman said. “Obviously, we’ve been doing some really good things NCAA-wise and conferencewise and were fortunate enough four years ago to put four girls on different countries’ Olympic teams, including one on the U.S. Olympic team.”
That 2008 experience included the first Aggie to swim on the U.S. Olympic team, Christine Marshall. Marshall earned a bronze medal swimming on USA’s 800-meter freestyle relay team.
This time around, A&M sophomores Breeja Larson and Cammile Adams will compete for the U.S. after becoming the first Aggies to win at the U.S. Olympic trials. Of course, A&M improved its odds of doing just that this year with 18 Aggies at the trials in Omaha, Neb.
Larson won the 100 breaststroke and took sixth in the 200 breaststroke. Adams won the 200 butterfly while also earning a bronze in the 400 individual medley.
“To get two more in individual events and winning the individual events, I think that’s a strong statement,” Bultman said.
Two other A&M swimmers advanced to finals at the U.S. trials. Caroline McElhaney finished fifth in the 200 butterfly and eighth in the 100 butterfly. Sarah Henry placed seventh in the 400 IM.
Bultman, who has coached at A&M since 1999, served as an assistant U.S. coach in 1988 in Seoul, South Korea. In 2008, he assisted on the Estonian team, which included former A&M All-American Triin Aljand.
Bultman, who swam for LSU, earned an undergraduate psychology degree, the same degree that Larson is now pursuing. She is also considering a career in coaching.
“Steve’s job is like a dream come true,” Larson said “He lives on a golf course. He comes and tells us what to do, and he gets travel benefits. It seems like such an awesome job to have.”
Bultman does his part to keep it fun.
“There is a lot of psychology involved,” Bultman said. “My philosophy is that people perform better when they are relaxed and happy. You try to keep them under control. You try to keep them loose, joking around with them. Keep them smiling.
“We’ve got some goofy, funny girls, and we want them to continue to be that way. We don’t want them to change and try to be real serious and stoic.”
Bultman smiles easily when talking about the success of A&M swimmers.
“As a coach coming up, you hope some day to have an Olympian,” Bultman said. “I was just thinking about that the other day. I’ve had six U.S. Olympians right now, and I’m just like ‘Wow!’ I can think back 24 or 25 years ago when I had the first three. I knew we had a chance because we had two girls that had been national champions before, but you’ve got to do it that day to make the team.”
At his 2011 awards banquet, Bultman challenged his A&M team to top their four-Olympian performance from 2008.
“Hey, we had four in 2008; let’s see if we can beat that,” Bultman said, adding with a lilting laugh. “Well, we’re blowing it away.”