FAYETTEVILLE, Ark., April 24. JEFF Poppell is the new head coach for swimming and diving at the University of Arkansas, Women’s Athletics Director Bev Lewis announced Saturday.
The former University of Georgia standout swimmer brings an international reputation to the Lady Razorback program. Previously the head coach of The Bolles School, a preparatory school in Jacksonville, Fla., with links to several Olympic swim organizations, Poppell will be introduced in Arkansas later this week.
“Jeff brings experience of training athletes at the highest level to the program, and he is a person with not only a national but international visibility in the swimming community,” Lewis said. “He has placed his former athletes with some of the finest collegiate swimming programs in the nation, and we look forward to welcoming Jeff and his wife Joanna to the northwest Arkansas area.”
The Bolles School dominated prep swimming in the Florida area and the 300-plus member Bolles Sharks is a force among United States Swimming clubs.
“This was a difficult decision, but I am looking forward to the challenge of building Arkansas into a program on the national level,” Poppell said.
Poppell recently led Bolles Sharks to a pair of national titles, and a fifth place overall combined finish at the 2006 USA Swimming Spring Championships earlier this month. Notable among the four teams ahead of the Sharks was University of Southern California.
Named one of the 2006 USA Swimming National Team coaches, Poppell was the 2004 NHSCA National Coach of the Year for girls swimming after The Bolles School captured the 2003 girls national high school title. In 2005, The Bolles School won its 18th consecutive boys and 14th consecutive girls Florida high school state titles.
In the past four seasons, Poppell coached four swimmers ranked top 25 in the world and 17 former or current members of Bolles Sharks were in the pool at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Seven current members of Bolles Sharks swam in Athens, and a dozen swimmers that competed, finaled or medaled at major international events including the FINA World Championships, Pan American and Commonwealth games.
“When you look at what he has achieved, it is not hard to see that he can have an impact on the program here at Arkansas,” Lewis said.
Poppell established training relationships with several international swimming federations which has resulted in The Bolles School serving as an international training facility for Olympic athletes of several nations.
A swimmer at Georgia during his collegiate days, Poppell joined the staff of Bolles in August 1993 as an age group coach, working his way up the ladder to associate head coach in August 2001. Poppell became the head coach and aquatics director in March 2002.
With the Bulldogs, Poppell was a two-time NCAA qualifier and captain of the Georgia swim team. The Bulldog swim program remembers his contributions to the team with the annual presentation of the Jeff Poppell Award for Leadership.
Poppell replaces Anne Goodman James who resigned after 10 seasons as the head coach for the Lady Razorbacks in early March.