Rick Pratt begins his eighth season at the helm of the New Mexico State swimming and diving program in 2012-13 following another successful year. Pratt has shaped the Aggies into one of the premiere teams in the WAC.
NM State broke 10 school records in 2011-12 en route to posting 12 NCAA provisional times, which is the most in program record. The Aggies finished in fourth place at the 2012 WAC Championships after scoring 429 points. Freshman Aliena Schmidtke won the 200 freestyle and earned WAC Freshman of the Year honors. She was the second consecutive Aggie to garner the award. Schmidtke also competed at the 2012 NCAA Championships, and she was the second Aggie in school history to swim at the national meet.
As a team, the Aggies finished No. 20 in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America /CollegeSwimming.com Mid-Major Poll. The Aggies earned two WAC Swimmer of the Week honors in 2011-12 with Schmidtke, Nov. 22, 2011, and freshman Jessica Legge, Jan. 10, 2012, collecting the accolades.
The Crimson and White had 16 student-athletes earn Academic All-WAC honors and five Academic All-WAC Freshmen/Transfer list members. The squad also made the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Division I Team Scholar All-America Fall 2011 list.
In 2010-11, the Aggies broke 10 school records and posted five NCAA 'B' cut times at the WAC Championship meet. The Aggies won two individual titles with Alannah Lawrence taking top honors in the 100 breaststroke and Tricia Kiss capturing the 400 individual medley title at the 2011 WAC meet. Kiss was named the 2011 WAC Freshman of the Year, a first in program history. As a team, NM State finished fifth with 405 points.
The Aggies finished No. 16 in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America /CollegeSwimming.com Mid-Major Poll following a 5-5 dual meet record. The season highlights included the fourth consecutive win over New Mexico, first win over Colorado State and a second-place showing at the UNLV Invitational. The Crimson and White also had two Aggies collect conference honors with Kelly Conrad earning WAC Swimmer of the Week honors, Jan. 25, 2011 and Carly Smith earning WAC Diver of the Week honors, Oct. 26, 2010. For the fifth consecutive season, the Aggies made the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Division I Team Scholar All-America Spring 2010 list. Additionally, the Aggies had 15 Academic All-WAC honorees and three Academic All-WAC Freshmen/Transfer list members.
The Aggies finished second at the WAC Championships in 2010, and Pratt was named WAC Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season. The Aggies continued to raise the bar for the program with their best finish at the WAC meet. The Aggies captured three individual WAC titles, Lawrence (100 breast), Maria Spies (200 breast) and Liz Thomson (1,650 free).
In 2009-10, the Aggies posted a 7-8 dual record with an extremely challenging schedule that incorporated three Pac-10 teams including No. 2 Arizona. NM State extended its win streak over in-state rival New Mexico to three consecutive years with a victory in Albuquerque. The Aggies also had a pair of WAC Swimmers of the Week with Kelly Runestrand earning her first career honor, Dec. 22, 2009, and Conrad was awarded the honor for the second time, Jan. 6, 2010.
Academically, NM State maintained its success as the squad ranked ninth nationally on the CSCAA Division I Team Scholar All-America Fall 2009 list. The Aggies posted a team grade point average of 3.44. NM State was the only WAC school ranked in the top 25. NM State also had 14 Academic All-WAC selections and nine Academic All-WAC Freshmen/Transfer team honorees.
In 2008-09, the Aggies had a remarkable season earning a third-place finish, and the highest point total (572) at the WAC Championships in school history. NM State set 17 school records in 2008-09. Spies represented the team at the NCAA Championships after sweeping the breaststroke events at the WAC meet. Spies was the first-ever Aggie to compete at nationals.
At the conference meet, the Aggies had six individual first team all-league honorees. As WAC Champion in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke, Spies led the way for NM State that included Stephanie Peacock (100 back), Lawrence (100 breast), Ana Smith (1,650 free), Thomson (400 IM and 1,650 free) and Mariesa Cloud (platform), who was the first Aggie diver to earn the accolade.
In dual meet action, the Aggies went 10-7 in the 2008-09 season. NM State opened the season hosting the inaugural WAC Shoot-Out. The Aggies defeated New Mexico for the second consecutive season and won for the first time in school history at Northern Arizona. NM State had a WAC Swimmer of the Week when Spies earned the honor, Nov. 10, 2008. In summer 2009, the Aggies had three swimmers compete at the World Championship Trials (Tessa Bain-Canada, Lawrence-U.S. and Spies-Germany).
Pratt expects success not only in the water but also in the classroom from his squad. As a team, the Aggies were on the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Spring 2009 Team Scholar All-America Division I List. NM State also had 15 Academic All-WAC selections and five Academic All-WAC Freshmen/Transfer team honorees in 2008-09.
In 2007-08, the Aggies posted a fifth-place finish at the WAC Championships with 460.5 points and the relay teams set three school records. NM State had six individual first team all-conference selections with Conrad (50 and 100 free), Lawrence (100 breast), Stephanie Peacock (100 back), Runestrand (200 breast), Bonnie Taylor (200 back) and Thomson (1,650 free and 400 IM). The Aggies also had seven individual second team all-conference honorees. For the first time in school history, the Aggies scored in the diving events at the WAC meet. Kirstin Pickett finished 10th on both the 1- and 3-meter springboards, while Amanda Schulte was 11th on the 3-meter and 16th on the 1-meter.
In dual meets, the Aggies were extremely successful and posted a 9-4 record, which included the first-ever win over Northern Arizona and first victory over New Mexico in more than 25 years. At Northern Arizona, the Aggies broke the pool record in the 400-free relay by three seconds (3:57.97) with the team of Meghann Percy, Peacock, Carolyn Bohm and Conrad. The Aggies also had two WAC Athletes of the Week (Conrad and Thomson). In addition, Peacock and Bain competed at the Canadian Olympic Trials in April 2008.
In 2008, Karen Kaufmann was named the WAC Stan Bates Award Winner. She is the first Aggie in school history to earn the distinguished honor. The award is named in honor of former WAC Commissioner Stan Bates and recognizes the league's top male and female scholar-athletes for both athletic and academic accomplishments. Bohm was a third team CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2007-08. She was just the third Aggie in school history to accomplish the prominent feat.
In 2006-07, the Aggies fought adversity but they rebounded to record a fifth-place showing at the WAC Championships. At the league meet, Thomson led the team as a freshman with a silver medal in the 400 IM and school record in the 1,650 free, which was also a fourth-place finish.
The Aggies had success in the classroom as well as they ranked second on the NCAA Division I Academic All-American list for the fall 2006 semester according to the CSCAA. In the spring 2007 semester, NM State was the No. 21 squad in the country.
Pratt led NM State to wins over Northern Colorado and Florida International/North Texas. At the quad meet in Houston, Texas, against the host Cougars, FIU and UNT, Thomson set her first school record in the 1,000 free.
In his first year with in Las Cruces, Pratt led the Aggie resurgence as the team set three school records at the WAC Championships and captured a pair of individual medals. Under Pratt's leadership, NM State won two dual meets, including a conference showdown at San Diego.
Under Pratt's tutelage several Aggies had breakout years, including Kelly Freeburn, who won a pair of silver medals at the WAC Championships. Freeburn was also named the WAC Swimmer of the Week after leading NM State to its first-ever conference victory over San Diego, 57-54, with wins in the 50 free and 100 free.
The Aggies also saw great performances from several other swimmers in Pratt's inaugural year. Megan Woodworth had an impressive year and set the school record in the 400 IM at the WAC Championships. Woodworth was also part of a 800-free relay team that set another school record at the WAC Championships.
Pratt came to NM State after two seasons as an assistant coach at UNLV where he specialized in coaching the breaststroke. In 2004-05, Pratt helped coach both the men's and women's squads to Mountain West Conference titles, the first for each in school history.
Prior to his stint as an assistant with the Rebels, Pratt was an assistant coach at Rutgers, where he worked with the middle distance and distance swimmers for the Scarlet Knights. He worked with swimmers who lowered 22 school records during the 2002-03 season.
Pratt began his coaching career at his alma mater, Alabama, as a volunteer assistant working with the middle distance and sprint groups. One of the swimmers he worked with, Anne Poleska went on to win the silver medal in the 200 breast at the 2005 NCAA Championships and the 2005 World Championships while also taking the bronze medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. Pratt also spent two seasons as head coach of the Crimson Tide Aquatics club team.
As a competitor, Pratt was a two-year letterwinner and captain of the Alabama swim team until graduating in 2001. While swimming with the Crimson Tide, Pratt was the recipient of the Marshall Shoemaker Award for efforts in practice. He also participated in the 1996 Canadian Olympic Trials.
Pratt, a native of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and his wife, Melissa, have two children, Jacob (8) and Olivia (6).