South Carolina Will Hire Jeff Poppell as New Head Swim Coach

Update: South Carolina made the announcement official on Friday afternoon.

Poppell’s comments:

“I’m both honored and thrilled to have been named the new head swimming and diving coach here at South Carolina. On my visit earlier this week, I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the campus, the highly ranked academic programs offered, as well as the strong commitment made by the Gamecock Athletics administration to help build and sustain a championship caliber program at the University of South Carolina. We have a lot of work ahead of us in the future, however, I can’t wait to get to Columbia, meet the teams, and begin this exciting new journey.”

Jeff Poppell, the head women’s swimming & diving coach at the University of Florida, will leave Gainesville for another SEC job: as the head coach of both the men’s and women’s teams at the University of South Carolina. The news has not been officially announced, but has been confirmed to SwimSwam by multiple other coaches with knowledge of the matter.

He replaces McGee Moody, who was the head coach at South Carolina for the previous 14 seasons, but left via “mutual agreement” with the athletics department.

While SwimSwam has requested details of Poppell’s new contract, Poppell made more last year as just the women’s team head coach at Florida ($165,000 in salary, including a car allowance and academic incentive) than Moody did to coach both genders at South Carolina ($130,000 according to public records).

This move will restore some faith in the future of the South Carolina program after university president Bob Caslen said in December that a budget deficit might result in cutting sports.

The big difference is that at South Carolina, Poppell will have the opportunity to lead both the men’s and women’s programs. At Florida, Poppell was hired prior to the start of the 2018-2019 season, when the program was split by gender following the retirement of Gregg Troy. Longtime Florida assistant Anthony Nesty took over the men’s program.

In just 3 seasons, Poppell breathed new life into the Florida women’s program. In 2017, the Florida women were scoreless at the NCAA Championships for the first time ever. In 2021, the team finished in 17th place with 84.5 points.

In 2018, the year before Poppell took over, the Florida women placed 7th at SECs. In 2019, they rose all the way to 2nd, a position they repeated in 2020 and 2021.

Now he jumps to a South Carolina program that will be in need of a similar revival. The Gamecocks women placed 11th at the 2021 SEC Championships out of 12 teams, while the men finished 10th out of 10 teams.

The South Carolina women haven’t placed better than 9th at the SEC Championships since the conference expanded in the 2012-2013 season. The South Carolina men haven’t been higher than 7th since 2000, including a number of last-place finishes.

Poppell arrived at Florida in 2016 as an associate head coach.

The Gators have the #6 recruit in the class of 2021 Micayla Cronk and the #17 recruit in the class of 2021 Brooke Zettell scheduled to join the team this fall. Their 2022 class is even better, with #5 Zoe Dixon, #12 Hayden Miller, and #20 Scarlet Martin all committed.

Prior to taking the job at UF, Poppell served as the head coach of Gulliver Preparatory School and Gulliver Swim Club in south Florida for the past 4 seasons. Poppell began his coaching career in 1993 as an age group coach at Bolles under Troy.

After working his way up from his age group coaching position, Poppell was the head coach of the Bolles School from 2002-06. There, he led the Bulldogs to a pair of National Championship titles. In 2004, he was recognized as the NHSCA Girls’ National High School Coach of the Year. During his time as Head Coach, he coached 4 swimmers to the top 25 in the world rankings.

At Gulliver Prep, Poppell led the girls to back-to-back state titles, with their first-ever state championship at the 2014 FHSAA 2A High School State Championship Meet. He coached several swimmers to Olympic Trials and World Championships Trials, as well as 3 finalists at U.S. Summer Junior Nationals.

Poppell came to Gainesville with prior experience as an NCAA coach, having worked as the head coach of the University of Arkansas from 2006-12. During his tenure with the Razorbacks, he led them to a 5th place finish at the SEC Championship meet in 2009, the highest finish in program history. In 2009 and 2010, he coached Yi-Ting Siow to 4th place in the 200 breast, the highest finish ever achieved by an Arkansas swimmer.

Internationally, Poppell was a U.S. National Team Coach from 2005-09. He was the Head Women’s Coach for Team USA at the World Maccabiah Games in Israel. Poppell coached 2 swimmers at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and 3 swimmers at the 2009 World Championships in Rome.

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Calswimfan
5 months ago

Good get for S Carolina but definitely a head scratcher…why would he leave UF for this position?

DCSwim
Reply to  Braden Keith
5 months ago

I feel like there’s more prestige that comes with coaching a whole team as opposed to just one gender, but what do I know I’m not a coach

Coach
Reply to  DCSwim
5 months ago

Sure. Tell that to Durden Mckeever Eddie Meehan

DCSwim
Reply to  Coach
5 months ago

Sorry, I was talking to David Marsh and Jim Steen too much

Cosch
Reply to  DCSwim
5 months ago

A women’s/men’s program is a whole team. A combined program is two teams.

J. Qin
Reply to  Calswimfan
5 months ago

Read the news 5 days after this one: UF is going to have a combined program and the head coach is: Anthony Nesty . So, there will not be two head coaches for UF, right?

usc
5 months ago

Go cocks!

Pez
5 months ago

interesting

Last edited 5 months ago by Pez
Col. Trautman
Reply to  Pez
5 months ago

You had to edit this one word and you couldn’t use a capital ‘I’? Interesting.

PsychoDad
Reply to  Col. Trautman
5 months ago

You had to write a whole post about that? interesting.

Klorn8d
5 months ago

Seems like a weird downgrade

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Klorn8d
5 months ago

You do realize UF is in … Florida, the state Jon Stewart refers to as “the pen*s of America.”

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Klorn8d
5 months ago

Steve Spurrier went from a UF national title to South Carolina (by way of a bumbling stint with the Redskins).

Cocks on Top
5 months ago

interesting that he’d take a $15k pay cut to do more work…read the article by chance?

Cocks on Top
Reply to  Cocks on Top
5 months ago

this was a response to someone saying hell make less than he did at florida, which their original has since been deleted

Klorn8d
5 months ago

Wonder who will take over at Florida? Promote Whitney hite or bring in someone new

Klorn8d
Reply to  Braden Keith
5 months ago

Possible for sure, I wonder if Anthony nesty would want the women’s job? I know a lot of coaches kinda like just focusing on one gender. But then again more prestige and more pay coaching both

A Guy
Reply to  Braden Keith
5 months ago

Hollie Bonewit-Cron

Old swimmer
Reply to  A Guy
5 months ago

Oh god no

Cocks on Top
Reply to  A Guy
5 months ago

not sure if to up vote or down vote this 🙂

Ghost
Reply to  Braden Keith
5 months ago

I don’t think Nesty is going to be driven solely by money!

hookem91
Reply to  Klorn8d
5 months ago

If Whitney Hite gets promoted to lead another women’s program said women’s program should preemptively hire 2 sports psychologists and a dietician or two or three. They will need it.

GoldFish
Reply to  hookem91
5 months ago

@hookem91 what do you know about Whitney Hite? Have you met him? Swam for him? Excellent coach and his track record proves that. Every place he has coached has gotten better with him on deck. If kids truly want to swim (not participate) but swim and swim fast he is the right coach for them.

Last edited 5 months ago by GoldFish
outsidesmoke
5 months ago

Good pick for the gamecocks! Excited for the future!

GA Boy
5 months ago

Why? Maybe the only place more humid than Columbia, SC is Gainesville.

Dan
Reply to  GA Boy
5 months ago

Have you visited FGCU/Fort Myers in the spring, summer or fall?

Anonymous
Reply to  GA Boy
5 months ago

Just be careful where you park when it’s raining as the lot completely floods

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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