FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas head swimming and diving coach Neil Harper announced on Friday the hiring of Melissa Steele as the program’s assistant swimming coach. Steele served as a graduate assistant coach for the Razorbacks during the past two seasons.
“After conducting a national search, the best coach was right here already,” Harper said. “Melissa has worked with these ladies and achieved great success. She has a love, passion and knowledge of this university and athletic department that no other candidate had. She is already a knowledgeable coach and has established great relationships with high school and club coaches across the country. I am really excited how our staff is coming together as we prepare to provide our team with a complete and comprehensive approach to an amazing team dynamic and incredible results in the pool.”
During the past two seasons, Steele assisted with on-deck coaching, as well as administrative duties including team travel, meals, equipment inventory and recruiting activities. Since her arrival in 2014, the Razorbacks have broken six short course school records and bettered three long course school marks.
Most recently, Steele coached rising junior Jessie Garrison to 2016 Olympic Trials qualifying marks in the 200-meter butterfly as well as the 400- and 200-meter individual medley events. In addition, she helped guide rising junior Chloe Hannam to a program-best time in the 200-meter backstroke in April.
“I am thrilled to be able to stay in Arkansas and with my Razorback family,” Steele said. “This is an incredible opportunity for me to continue to work with this team and in the Southeastern Conference. I can’t wait to continue to work with and watch our team develop. I am grateful to coach Harper for believing in me and allowing me this opportunity. I also want to thank Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long and the rest of the athletic department for its continued support of swimming and diving. I am looking forward to exciting things ahead.”
Prior to Arkansas, Steele served as an assistant age group coach for the Bolles School Sharks in Jacksonville, Florida, from 2013-14, working under Olympic coach Sergio Lopez and with U.S. Junior National Team coaches Jason Calanog and Dale Porter.
Steele also served as a camp counselor from 2012-14 at the University of Texas’ Longhorns Swim Camp, working with Olympic coaches Eddie Reese and Carol Capitani as well as Olympians Josh Davis, Brendan Hansen and Ian Crocker.
A four-time Big East All-Academic Team honoree, Steele swam competitively from 2008-12 at the University of Louisville, helping the Cardinals to Big East team championships in both 2011 and 2012. She finished her collegiate career ranked third all-time in the 1,650-yard freestyle and sixth in the 200-yard butterfly in school history.
A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Steele graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Louisville. She earned her master’s degree in sport and recreation management at Arkansas in May and was named the program’s Most Outstanding Master’s Student.
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