LAWRENCE, Kan.—Texas A&M women’s swimming head coach Steve Bultman became the winningest coach in the program’s history on Thursday night at Robinson Natatorium with dual meet victories over Kansas and No. 18 Missouri.
The ninth-ranked Aggies broke Robinson Natatorium records in one-third of the races they swam on their way to 133-106 and 135-104 victories over Kansas and Missouri, respectively. A&M won 10 of the 12 races contested and elected to completely exhibition the final three events.
With the two wins, Bultman moves his career and A&M record to 83-20 over his nine-plus year career in College Station. Bultman passes Mel Nash who earned 81 wins as the women’s head coach from 1979-1995.
“Achieving this is a byproduct of the girls swimming well and all the help I’ve had over the years with all our staff,” Bultman said. “It’s great to be able to see the program improve and move along in the way that it has. Tonight’s not so much about me but about all the people over the last 10 years that helped make this happen.”
Aggie U.S. Olympian Christine Marshall (Newport News, Va.) set a new Robinson Natatorium record in the 200 freestyle with a winning time of 1:48.62. The time ranks her fourth in the country and broke the old pool record of 1:48.85 set by Jayhawk Maria Mayrovich in 2007. Marshall also won the 100 freestyle in 50.80.
Olympian junior Alia Atkinson (Penbroke Pines, Fla.) swam the fastest 200-yard breaststroke in the nation so far this year, hitting the wall in 2:14.71. Atkinson mauled the old natatorium record of 2:17.75 set by Jayhawk Kristin Nilsen in 1996.
“Alia swam very well,” Bultman said. “That 200 breast was very good. She fell off a bit in that last 50 but it was still an outstanding swim. She had a nice 100 free as well which was good to see.”
The 200 medley relay group of Triin Aljand (Tallinn, Estonia), Alia Atkinson, Lauren Clifford (Pollock Pines, Calif.), and Sarah Woods (Birmingham, Ala.) set a new pool record of 1:43.05, breaking the old record of 1:44.34 set by the Aggies at the Big 12 Relays in 2004.
Olympian senior Triin Aljand, the national leader in the 50 freestyle, won that event handily in 23.00.
Junior Emily Neal (Plano) proved the class of the field in the 200 back, destroying the old pool record of 2:03.84 set by Jayhawk Katie Chapeau in 1993. Neal’s time of 2:00.72 ranks among the top 15 in the country in the event.
“That was a good early season swim for Emily,” Bultman said. “She does a great job of finishing her races well and she did so again today.”
Sophomore Casey Hurrell-Zitelman (San Antonio) earned a win in the 1,000 free in a season best time of 10:07.14, chopping nearly 10 seconds off her season-opening performance two weeks ago. Hurrell-Zitelman also placed second in the 500 free in 4:57.90.
Freshman Rita Medrano (Aguascalientes, Mexico) won her second straight 200 fly competition with a career-best time of 2:01.36. Her time ranks her among the top 15 in the country.
The group of Triin Aljand, Codie Hansen (Arlington), Melissa Hain (Kingwood) and Christine Marshall just missed setting a fifth pool record at the close of the meet in the 400 free relay. The foursome clocked a time of 3:25.79, just .03 off the natatorium record.
“It’s always great to break pool records,” Bultman said. “This pool has been around for a while and there has been a lot of meets go on here. A good number our girls had great swims today. Our Olympians and Casey, Rita -- it was just a good all around day for us.”
The Aggies will be back in action on Friday morning as they compete in the Big 12 Relays. A&M is the two-time defending Big 12 Relays champion, having won every single race at the meet in each of the past two years.