Courtesy: Bucknell Athletics
LEWISBURG, Pa. – Head Bucknell swimming & diving coach Dan Schinnerer announced Monday that Kelly Essler has joined his staff as an assistant coach. Essler brings eight years of collegiate coaching experience to Bucknell.
“We are very excited to have Kelly joining our team. She brings to us a great depth of experience and knowledge, having been a successful head coach at the NAIA level,” Schinnerer said. “Every program she has been a part of has made great improvements, and we are excited for her to help us continue to grow as a program.”
Most recently, Essler spent the last four seasons as head coach of the Olivet Nazarene University men’s and women’s swim & dive teams. Essler guided the Tigers to a combined seven Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference titles. She earned KCAC Coach of the Year recognition each year, and she’s led the women’s program to two third-place finishes at the NAIA National Championships.
Essler coached five KCAC Swimmers of the Year during her time at ONU, including Karla Islas, who captured national titles in the 400 IM and 1650 freestyle. Her Tiger teams garnered more than 50 individual NAIA All-American honors along with NAIA All-American relay teams.
Prior to ONU, Essler spent four years at her alma mater, Milligan College, and served as head coach from 2016 to 2019. She found instant success with the Buffaloes, as her teams broke 11 school records and saw two national finalists during her first season at the helm of the program. Essler was named Appalachian Athletic Conference Women’s Coach of the Year in 2017-18.
Essler has been involved in collegiate swimming outside of coaching as well, serving as secretary for NAIA Swimming from 2017 to 2018 and as vice president of the organization from 2018 to 2019.
As a student-athlete, Essler set five school records for the Milligan College swimming team and competed in seven different races at the NAIA National Championships during her freshman campaign. She was also a cyclist and went on to represent Team USA on the World Championship Triathlon team in Switzerland in 2019.
Essler earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Milligan College in 2014.