Coach Jeff Poppell to Leave Gulliver for UF
In the wake of the announcement of Coach Martyn Wilby’s departure, the Gators have hired Gulliver Prep coach Jeff Poppell as associate head coach.
Coach Poppell, who led the Arkansas Razorbacks’ women’s swimming and diving teams for 6 seasons and brought Arkansas national success, took over the Gulliver Prep program in 2012 and recreated that success with the school’s fledgling program. Under Coach Poppell, Gulliver won its first ever Class 2A state title in 2014 and then repeated as defending champs this year. Plus the Gulliver Prep girls were runner-up in the 2015 Florida Swim Network Mythical Meet, which combines all 4 high school state meets together to determine the ultimate champion.
Coach Poppell and his team celebrating their high school state championship.
“It is with mixed emotions that I announce my departure from Gulliver,” Coach Poppell explained when speaking to Florida Swim Network’s SwimmerJoe. “This exciting new challenge is a unique opportunity at one of the top collegiate swimming programs in the country and after careful thought and consideration I felt the time was right to make the move. I want to express a heartfelt thank you to the Gulliver administration and the incredible group of coaches, swimmers, parents, faculty, and staff at Gulliver who have helped make the past four years an unbelievable experience for my entire family and one that we will always cherish.”
Previous to Arkansas and then Gulliver, Coach Poppell served as coach at Bolles School and Bolles Sharks swim programs. Under his guidance, the Bolles School took state and national titles. In 2005, Poppell was named the Florida High School Boy’s Coach of the year. In 2004, he was named the National High School Girl’s Coach of the year. Coach Poppell was also the head women’s coach for Team USA at the 2009 World Maccabiah Games in Israel.
Back to the SEC
No stranger to the SEC environment, Coach Poppell holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in management from the University of Georgia. He was a four-year letter winner in swimming and team captain for the Georgia Bulldogs and a two-time NCAA Qualifier, Academic All-SEC, and Honorable Mention All-SEC. When speaking to SwimmerJoe, Coach Poppell joked that Florida’s Athletic Director Jeremy Foley questioned whether hanging up his red and black for the orange and blue would be difficult.
Working with Head Coach Gregg Troy
Coach Poppell already has a strong relationship with Gators head coach Jeff Poppell, as he was with Coach Troy when Troy was the Bolles coach prior to his going to UF. Coach Troy commented on hiring Coach Poppell: “I’ve known Jeff a long time and I have no doubt he’ll be a tremendous fit. He’s a winner, with experience at winning programs, and he came up from grass roots. He’s got a fantastic personality that I know our student-athletes will feed off of. Collectively, he’s the type of coach we were looking for and we’re happy to have him with us.”
To which Coach Poppell responded: “I am truly honored to have been named the associate head swimming coach at the University of Florida and I look forward to returning to the Southeastern Conference and NCAA Division I swimming and diving. I would like to thank Coach Troy and Jeremy Foley for offering me this opportunity to join Gator Nation. I have the utmost respect and admiration for Coach Troy, his coaching staff, and the rich tradition that has been prevalent at the University of Florida for so many years.”
Before moving on, both Martyn Wilby and Coach Poppell will remain training their current swimmers who have qualified for the US Olympic Trials which is being held the end of June. As an added bonus, Gulliver swimmers Kelly Fertel and Niki Urquidi will be joining Coach Poppell at Florida this coming year.
Welcome to the Gator Nation, Coach Poppell!