After a fifth-place finish at the Western Athletic Conference Championships in February, the New Mexico State University women’s swimming and diving team is set to make waves in its upcoming 2023-2024 season.
Despite a turbulent start in the first non-exhibition meet of the season with a sinking loss of 169-131 against the Northern Colorado Bears, the Aggies worked to turned things around at their annual alumni meet.
The alumni event was held on Saturday, Oct. 21, at the NM State Swimming and Diving Complex. With only two competitions beforehand, the alumni meet gave the team more practice time before the season kicks into full effect in early November.
NMSU alumni of all ages and genders were invited to participate and compete against members of the current team’s roster in a variety of swimming and diving events. According to NMSU sophomore and swim team member Jamie Puhalski, the event focused less on competition and more on having fun and celebrating the sport.
“It’s really just a fun meet, nothing too stressful or too much pressure,” Puhalski said. “It’s just fun to see everyone that used to be here. A lot of the alumni did really well and were really close to most of our swimmers. It’s cool to see that swimming stayed with them even after they haven’t been practicing, and they still enjoy doing it.”
Leading the team is head coach Rick Pratt, who began his journey back in 2005 and is now entering his 18th season with the program. It was under Pratt’s leadership that the team was able to become NCAA qualifiers in 2009 and 2012.
“This event is all about having fun and staying connected with former Aggies,” Pratt said. “Swimming is an amazing sport. You can always continue to be a swimmer your whole life, and it’s really fun to get some previous swimmers and divers on deck and see the competitiveness that they still have in themselves.”
The Aggies have a hectic season ahead of them as they gear up to hit the road for a series of away meets. The rest of their season will begin with a set of dual meets in Texas, followed by a trip to Albuquerque for a rivalry match against the University of New Mexico.
“Now we’re starting to do more quality and specific things in training,” Pratt said. “We go to Texas in two weeks to face Texas Christian University and the University of North Texas, which will be a really tough road trip. The weekend after that we go up to UNM in Albuquerque, so things are going to start getting busier and busier. We’re training through Thanksgiving pretty heavy, and the divers are going to Flagstaff for a diving invite while the swimmers are going to the University of Iowa’s Hawkeye Invite, which will be an amazing experience.”
The team will work its way to redemption at the upcoming 2024 WAC championships in late-February 2024. Meanwhile, the Aggies will prepare for their next meet on Friday, Nov. 3, against Texas Christian University.