On the Verge: NMSU swimming and diving making a splash
Many people may view the simple snapshot of 11 young women tacked on the bulletin board above his computer as a nice keepsake, but New Mexico State swimming and diving head coach Rick Pratt sees the photo as a reminder of how the Aggie program has grown.
"The picture reminds me that we have come a long way and our program is not only is better, and faster, and all that, but it's also more recognized on the national scene," he said.
Pratt arrived in Las Cruces on the first day of practice in fall 2005 and he has created an identifiable swimming and diving program in just six years. The Aggies finished in sixth place at the WAC Championships in 2006 with those 11 student-athletes, and last season the team recorded a program-best runner-up finish. The Aggies, who ended the regular season ranked No. 18 in CollegeSwimming.com's mid-major poll, broke 10 school records at the 2011 WAC Championships, held Feb. 22-26 in San Antonio.
The Aggies concluded the regular season with their fourth consecutive victory over in-state rival New Mexico, after sweeping Colorado State and Northern Colorado in their final road trip of the year.
While the Aggies have succeeded in the water, the team also triumphs in the classroom. Under Pratt's guidance the Aggies are consistently ranked in the top 15 nationally in academics.
"When I got here, my goal first and foremost was to recruit good people who were well-balanced and loved not only swimming and had a strong passion for their sport, but they wanted to be good students. They had ambitions for themselves for later in life," Pratt said.
"It's all about balance and the better we get, I can never forget what got us to this point."
Written by Tiffany Franklin.