Kelly Essler to Join Olivet Nazarene as Head Swimming & Diving Coach

Photo Courtesy: Twitter, @OlivetNazSWIM

Gary Newsome, Director of Athletics for Olivet Nazarene University, is excited to announce the hiring of Kelly Essler as the Head Swimming and Diving Coach for the Tigers. Essler comes to Olivet from Milligan College (Tenn.) where she has served in the same capacity for the last three seasons.

“I am very happy to have Kelly as our newest member of the ONU family,” stated Newsome. “Her enthusiasm and work ethic is infectious. Our swimmers will excel under her leadership.”

Essler led the Buffaloes to a combined second place finish at the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) Swimming Championships in 2019. A total 16 swimmers advance to the NAIA National Championships with three earning NAIA All-America honors. She also had 15 athletes named Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes.

“I am super excited about the opportunity to continue the great legacy that Olivet’s swim program has boasted over the last few years,” said Essler of the career change.

“My husband, Peter, and I have found this move to be very exciting and very scary at the same time. We have lived in Johnson City for so long and it is where we are comfortable. But the Lord was pushing me to come to Olivet and to start with a brand new slate.”

Under Essler’s leadership, the Buffalos made history in 2018 with the first two individual NAIA All-American performances in program history.  She was also named AAC Coach of the Year and had the honor of coaching the AAC women’s freshman of the year.

“I am hoping I can continue with some of what I implemented at Milligan. I feel that the sport of swimming has lost how to make such a rigorous sport enjoyable. I want to enable the swimmers to enjoy swimming, as well as seeing time improvements. My goal is to have my athletes love the sport, to have a positive team dynamic, and to get back to that championship status.”

In addition to coaching, Essler serves as the Vice President for NAIA Swimming. She has also previously served as the secretary for the executive board.

In her free time, Essler stays active, not just swimming but also running and biking. She has completed a half iron man and recently qualified for a spot on the Team USA in the sprint triathlon. She will  compete at the World Championships in Switzerland in August of 2019.

While the official move to the Bourbonnais area will not happen until this summer, Essler is already hitting the ground running on the recruiting trail for future Tigers.

— The above press release was posted by Swimming World in conjunction with Olivet Nazarene Athletics. For press releases and advertising inquiries please contact