Texas A&M, Olympic Coach Steve Bultman Announces Retirement Following Season

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Steve Bultman; Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Texas A&M women’s swimming & diving coach Steve Bultman announced his plans to retire following the 2023-24 season.

Bultman has been the head women’s coach for 25 years and has led the Aggies to 12 top-10 team finishes at the NCAA Championships and eight conference titles, coaching six individual national champions, 80 All-Americans and 16 Olympians.

“My time at Texas A&M has been awesome and I’m proud of what we have been able to accomplish,” Steve Bultman said. “I have had a lot of help in getting to accomplish these great things and would like to thank all of my past and present assistant coaches and staff. I can’t believe it’s been 25 years – it seems like it was just a few years ago when I was hired. I’ve really enjoyed my time here, Texas A&M is a great school academically and we have great facilities and support. Our athletics department wants and supports all our teams to do well. It’s bittersweet – I will miss coaching and working with the swimmers, but I look forward to spending more time with family and friends. I’ve got about six more months and I’m looking forward to some great swims at SECs and NCAAs, and some big long-course swims as we finish up this Olympic cycle.”

Bultman, who was named to the CSCAA Top 100 Swimming & Diving Coaches of the Century in December of 2021, was inducted into the American Swim Coaches Hall of Fame in 2015 and the International Swimming Coaches Hall of Fame in 2021. He guided Texas A&M to all eight of its team conference titles, as the Aggies earned Big 12 championship trophies in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012, and claimed four consecutive SEC Championships from 2016-2019. He is a nine-time conference Coach of the Year and has earned Coach of the Meet honors seven times.

“Over the course of his career, Coach Bultman has led the women’s swimming & diving program to unprecedented success, and more importantly, he has been influential in the lives and development of hundreds of young women,” Deputy Athletics Director for Administration and Leadership Kristen Brown said. “What he has accomplished at Texas A&M, internationally, and both in and out of the pool throughout his storied career speaks volumes about who he is a coach, but also as a human. It has been an honor to work alongside of him, and we congratulate Coach Bultman on an outstanding career and a well-deserved retirement. We look forward to celebrating him throughout the remainder of the season.”

Bultman completely transformed the Aggies program.

When Bultman was hired at Texas A&M on June 2, 1999, the Aggies had never finished higher than third at the conference championships or in the top 10 at the national meet. Under Bultman, the Aggies strung together a 12-year streak of top-10 finishes at NCAA Championships. After four-straight fourth-place finishes at NCAA Championships from 2013-16, the Aggies registered their highest NCAA finish ever in 2017 with a third-place effort at NCAAs. A&M put together another great showing at the national meet and eventually took third again in 2018.

He coached several individual NCAA champions including Breeja Larson, who won three titles, as well as Alia Atkinson, Julia Wilkinson and Cammile Adams, who like Larson went on to compete in the Olympics. The other titles came from Paige Miller, Sarah Henry and diver Jaele Patrick.

Bultman’s influence isn’t confined to the collegiate ranks. He has been named to the U.S. Olympic Team coaching staff twice and to a variety of other Team USA coaching staffs, including the 1985 Pan Pacific Games, the 1989 LEN Cup, the 2001, 2009 and 2015 World University Games, the 2013 World Championships and the 2019 Pan American Games.

In 2008, Bultman served on the coaching staff for the Estonia Olympic Team. Four of members of his 2008 Texas A&M squad joined him at the Beijing Olympic Games – Triin Aljand (Estonia), Atkinson (Jamaica), Christine Marshall (USA) and Wilkinson (Canada). Marshall was the first-ever Aggie to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team and she earned the first Olympic medal (bronze with the 800 free relay) in program history. In total, nine current or former A&M swimmers under Bultman competed in London – Adams, Aljand, Atkinson, Erica Dittmer (Mexico), Liliana Ibanez (Mexico), Larson, Rita Medrano (Mexico), Kim Pavlin (Croatia) and Wilkinson.

He was named to the 2012 U.S. Olympic coaching staff after Larson and Adams earned their trips to the London Olympics with the program’s first-ever wins at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials (Larson in the 100m breast and Adams in the 200m fly). Larson went on to place sixth in the 100 breast and earn a gold medal with Team USA’s 400 medley relay, while Adams placed fifth in 200 fly for the highest Olympic finish ever by a current Aggie swimmer.

The 2016 Olympics featured two current Texas A&M swimmers and three more of Bultman’s former pupils – Beryl Gastaldello (France) and Sydney Pickrem (Canada) from the 2016 squad, as well as Adams, Atkinson and Ibanez. Bultman served as an assistant coach for Mexico in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The 2020 Tokyo Games saw Atkinson compete at her fourth and final Olympics, while Pickrem helped Canada bring home a bronze medal in the 4x100m medley relay. The 2020 Games also featured three additional Aggies – Gastaldello, Aviv Barzelay (Israel) and McKenna DeBever (Peru).

Bultman’s Olympic coaching career began when he was named to the 1988 U.S. Olympic Team coaching staff after three of his swimmers – Beth Barr, Andrea Hayes and Daniel Watters — from the Greater Pensacola (Fla.) Aquatic Club (GPAC) advanced to Seoul, South Korea. Highlighting the 1988 Games for Bultman’s crew was Barr, who helped the 4x100m medley relay team bring home a silver medal.

Prior to Texas A&M, Bultman served as an assistant swimming coach at Georgia (1995-99) and his alma mater LSU (1990-91 and 1969-70) and was a successful club coach in Atlanta (Dynamo Swim Club, 1991-95), Boca Raton, Fla. (Mission Bay Makos, 1989-90), Pensacola, Fla. (GPAC, 1980-89, 1975-79), Nashville, Tenn. (Nashville Aquatic Club, 1979-80), and New Orleans (Lynn Park Pirahnas, 1970-75). In 2011, Bultman was a member of the inaugural GPAC Hall of Fame class.

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mds
mds
26 days ago

Enjoy new experiences, Steve. Well deserved. I remember telling Breeja she made a good choice. And she did.

Frank Comfort
Frank Comfort
26 days ago

Congratulations to a great coach & leader! Enjoy retirement with good health.

Ernie Maglischo
Ernie Maglischo
26 days ago

Steve, Congratulations on a storied career. Your knowledge and the humor you dispensed it with will be missed.

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