The University of Florida has split its men’s and women’s swim & dive programs, promoting former assistants Anthony Nesty and Jeff Poppell to head the men’s and women’s programs, respectively.
Nesty and Poppell were both associate head coaches under former men’s and women’s head coach Gregg Troy.Troy retired earlier this spring after 20 years with the Gators. At the time, we reported the likelihood of a split program led by Nesty and Poppell, though the more than a month between Troy’s retirement and the new hires had started to suggest that Florida was instead looking at an outside hire. As it turns out, the Gators announced Nesty and Poppell as head coaches on Monday.
The split programs goes against the current of NCAA programs, which have seen far more teams combining previously single-gender programs than splitting previously combined programs. Florida had years of great success for men and women under Troy, but recently, the men had surged while the women fell off.
Florida’s full press release is below:
Gators Name Anthony Nesty and Jeff Poppell as Head Coaches
Nesty to head up men’s swimming, Poppell to lead women
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida announced Monday replacements for long-time head swimming and diving coach Gregg Troy, promoting Associate Head Coach Anthony Nesty to lead the men’s program and Associate Head Coach Jeff Poppell (Pa-PELL) to lead the women’s program.
Both men have more than 20-plus years of coaching experience, are internationally acclaimed, having both coached and competed at the highest levels abroad and in the Southeastern Conference. Both have tutored multiple Olympians during their coaching careers and have guided athletes to both national championships and numerous All-America honors.
“We are fortunate to have two outstanding coaches, who are already heavily invested in the Florida swim programs, in a position to step up and provide leadership and continuity for our student-athletes going forward,” Athletic Director Scott Stricklin said. “The more we studied potential candidates to replace Coach Troy, it became obvious that the best choice was to provide Anthony and Jeff the opportunity to lead the Gators.
“Having won six-straight SEC championships, our men have had a run of high-level success, and I’m confident Anthony can continue putting them in position to compete with the best. Meanwhile, our women have developed some momentum in the last couple years, both in the pool and in recruiting, that Jeff has been an important part of creating. I’m looking forward to seeing him build off that momentum and get the Gators women back to a championship level.
“Restructuring the programs under Jeff’s and Anthony’s leadership will ensure our athletes receive the attention and coaching they deserve to enable them to enjoy an unbelievable experience during their time competing for the Gators.”
Nesty is entering his 21st season as a coach at Florida and it is his 25th season involved with the Gators after finishing one of the most decorated swimming careers at UF from 1989-92.
Under Nesty’s tutelage, Florida athletes have garnered 1,148 All-America honors and won 43 individual national championships. He has coached eight SEC Championship teams and UF athletes have accumulated 177 SEC titles during his tenure.
“It is with tremendous humility that I accept the position of Head Coach for the men’s swimming & diving team at the University of the Florida,” said Nesty. “This day is very special to me, as I am a Florida alumni.
“I would like to thank Scott Stricklin and the entire administrative staff for having the confidence in me to lead our men. The administration has been extremely supportive and I greatly appreciate all of their efforts on my behalf and that of the program’s.”
The Paramaribo, Suriname, native has coached the men’s team to a top-10 finish at NCAAs for the last 19 seasons, including a fifth-place finish in 2018. Nesty has guided the men’s team to two top-3 finishes over the last 20 seasons as well.
“I am fervently passionate about continuing the Florida tradition of excellence in our sport,” said Nesty. “It is my goal to maintain and surpass the standard Gregg Troy and others before him set for the premium program in the country.”
Not only has Nesty coached the highest caliber athletes to NCAA and SEC Championships, but also to Olympic medals. While at Florida, he has coached 42 Olympians who have won a total of 23 medals, including 11 gold. Nesty has served as the head coach of the Suriname Olympic team three times throughout his career (2008, 2012, 2016).
Nesty has coached Florida athletes to five CSCAA Male Swimmer of the Year Awards (Caeleb Dressel – 2016-18; Ryan Lochte – 2005-06). He has served as the UF men’s swimming team recruiting coordinator with extensive international and club swimming recruiting ties. The incoming freshman class is ranked second in the nation by SwimSwam, and includes the country’s top recruit, Trey Freeman.
Nesty was a two-time Olympian who won the first gold medal for his country of Suriname in the 1988 Olympics. Nesty captured five NCAA titles for UF, the most in school history at the time. The only two Gators to have passed that mark of five national championships are Caeleb Dressel and Ryan Lochte. For all his successes as a Florida Gator, Nesty was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame in April 2002.
“I am extremely grateful for this prestigious opportunity and I look forward to leading this very talented team,” said Nesty. “It is great to be a Florida Gator!”
Poppell joined the Gator staff in 2016 after 23 years coaching at various elite places around the country. He now enters his 26th season coaching and third with the Gator program. While with UF, athletes have won nine individual national titles, 19 SEC titles and garnered 67 All-American honors. Poppell has also served as the recruiting coordinator for the women’s team, whose incoming class is ranked third in the nation by SwimSwam.
“I am deeply honored to have been named the next head women’s swimming coach at the University of Florida,” said Poppell. “I would like to thank Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin and Senior Associate Athletic Director Mike Spiegler for their trust in allowing me to lead this program.”
During his 15 years of head coaching experience, he has coached athletes at the club, high school and the Southeastern Conference level. Poppell has coached Olympians, SEC champions, as well as national and state championships.
“I truly appreciate Gregg Troy providing me with the opportunity two years ago to join his staff here at UF.
“With the addition of two nationally ranked recruiting classes and the continued development of our current group of student-athletes, I feel that the future of this women’s team is bright as we strive to compete for championships against the very best in the SEC and NCAA.”
The Jacksonville, Fla., native served as a head women’s coach at the University of Arkansas from 2006-12. While there, Poppell helped the Razorback women’s program reach new heights after guiding 16 athletes to qualify individually for NCAA Championships, with 10 of these women earning 10 NCAA All-America honors under his tutelage. Arkansas’ fifth-place finish at the 2009 SEC Championships was the highest finish in program history.
Prior to the University of Arkansas, Poppell spent 13 years with the Bolles School and Bolles Sharks, one of the country’s most prominent high school and club swimming programs. At the 2006 Spring U.S. Championships, he led the Bolles Sharks to a top-5 team finish. During his time at Bolles, he coached four swimmers in the top-25 in the world, an additional seven swimmers ranked among the top-100 in the world and 17 current/former Bolles Sharks that competed at the 2004 Olympic Games. He was also recognized as the National High School Coach of the Year after leading the women’s team to a high school national championship in the 2003-04 season.
Before coming to Florida, he served as head coach of Gulliver Preparatory School and Gulliver Swim Club from 2012-16. There, he guided the Swim Club to its first-ever Silver Medal award, a prestigious honor which recognizes the top 100 swimming clubs in the United States.
Poppell has not only coached in the SEC, but also was a decorated collegiate swimmer and former captain at Georgia. To this day, the Bulldog program remembers his contributions to the team with the annual presentation of the Jeff Poppell Award for Leadership.
Anthony Nesty File
Hometown: Paramaribo, Suriname
Education: B.A. in Communications, University of Florida, 1994
Birth Date: November 25, 1967
– Head Coach, University of Florida Men, 2018
– Head Coach, Suriname Summer Olympic Team, 2016
– Head Coach, Suriname Summer Olympic Team, 2012
– Assistant Coach, United States National Team, 2011 World University Games
– Associate Head Coach, University of Florida, 2006-present
– Assistant Coach, Cayman Islands National Team, 2010
– Assistant Coach, Cayman Islands National Team, 2009
– Head Coach, Suriname Summer Olympic Team, 2008
– Assistant Coach, Suriname National Swim Team, 2004
– Assistant Coach, University of Florida, 1999-2006
– Assistant Men’s Coach, University of Florida, 1998-99
– Club Coach, Swim Florida, 1996-98
– Celebrated the 20th anniversary of his Olympic gold medal as Suriname’s flag bearer at the 2008 Olympics Games
– During his tenure at Florida, he has coached 42 Florida Gators Olympians
o 23 total medals: 11 gold, five silver, seven bronze
– Eight SEC Championships (Men’s: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018; Women’s: 2002, 2009)
– Coached five CSCAA Swimmers of the Year (Caeleb Dressel – 2016-18; Ryan Lochte – 2005-06)
– Under his direction, UF athletes have won 43 individual national championships, 177 SEC titles and garnered 1,148 honors
– Inducted into the University of Florida Hall of Fame (2002)
– Olympic Bronze medalist in the 100 fly (1992)
– Three-time NCAA champion in the 100 fly (1990-92)
– World champion in the 100 fly (1991)
– Member of the NCAA champion 400 MR team (1991)
– NCAA champion in the 200 fly (1990)
– Goodwill Games Gold medalist in the 100 fly (1990)
– Olympic Gold medalist in the 100 fly (1988)
o Only gold medalist in the history of Suriname
Jeff Poppell File
Hometown: Jacksonville, Fla.
Education: Bachelor’s in Business Administration, University of Georgia, 1993
Birth Date: February 7, 1970
– Head Coach, University of Florida Women, 2018
– Coach, USA Swimming National Team, 2017-18
– Assistant Coach, Team USA (Men), World University Games, 2017
– Associate Head Coach, University of Florida, 2016-2018
– Head Coach, Gulliver Preparatory School and Gulliver Swim Club, 2012-16
– Head Coach, University of Arkansas Women, 2006-12
– Head Women’s Coach for Team USA at the World Maccabiah Games in Israel, 2009
– Coach, USA Swimming National Team, 2005-08
– Head Coach, The Bolles School and Bolles Sharks, 2002-06
– Assistant Coach, The Bolles School and Bolles Sharks, 1993-2002
– During his two season as an Associate Head Coach at Florida, UF athletes have won nine individual national titles, 19 SEC titles and have garnered 67 All-American honors
– Coached three Olympians while at Florida
– Named assistant head coach of the men’s team at the World University Games in 2017
– Two SEC Championships (Men’s: 2017, 2018)
– Coached Gulliver Swim Club to its first-ever Silver Medal Award
– At Gulliver, he coached four U.S. Olympic Trial qualifiers, three finalists at the U.S. Summer Junior National Championships, and 10 swimmers who were ranked among the top 25 nationally in their respective age groups
– Three-time Florida Dairy Farmers Florida High School Coach of the Year (2004, 2014, 2015)
– Two-time Miami Herald All-Dade Coach of the Year (2014, 2015)
– 2005 NFHS Florida High School Coach of the Year
– 2004 NHSCA National High School Coach of the Year
– Guided 16 women to NCAA Championships at Arkansas
– Arkansas women’s program had the fourth highest GPA in all of collegiate swimming in 2008 and the program ranked among the top-10 nationally in GPA for four straight years