Kelly Nordell enters her ninth season on the Iowa State coaching staff in 2016-17 after joining the swimming and diving program as an assistant coach in June 2008 and earning a promotion to assistant head coach in 2010.
Nordell is primarily responsible for training the individual medley and distance swimmers. In addition to her roles on the pool deck, she is the head recruiting coordinator and directs strength and conditioning programs for the team.
Nordell has continued to produce quality swimmers during her time with the program, and the 2016-17 campaign has potential to be another great year as the Cyclones return a strong distance group anchored by Mary Kate Luddy and Haley Ruegemer, who both rank among the top-15 Cyclones all-time in their respective distance events.
Seven Cyclone IM swimmers will be back from the 2015-16 team that earned a third-place finish at the Big 12 Championship, including 200 IM school record holder Kasey Roberts. Luddy and Kasey Roberts, who rank second and sixth on Iowa State’s all-time top-performers list in the 400 IM, respectively, will continue their tutelage under Nordell in the upcoming season. Fourteen of the all-time top-20 performers in school history in the 200 IM and 10-of-20 in the 400 IM have competed for Iowa State since Nordell’s arrival in 2008.
During the 2013-14 season, Nordell coached then-freshman Karyl Clarete to one of the best rookie campaigns in Iowa State swimming and diving history. En route to ISU Newcomer of the Year honors, Clarete posted 22 first-place finishes on the year including a stretch of eight-consecutive events wins spanning three meets. Clarete became the first swimmer in Iowa State history to tackle three individual school records as a freshman: 1650, 1000 and 500 freestyle.
Nordell followed up with Roberts and Luddy in the 2014-15 season, as the pair of Cyclone newcomers combined for four school records (200 IM, 800 freestyle relay 200 butterfly and 200 breaststroke), 13 times on ISU’s all-top top-performers lists and eight All-Big 12 honors. Nordell coached Roberts to Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and Big 12 Newcomer of the Meet recognition, the first time an Iowa State student-athlete has earned either award.
Nordell’s efforts on the recruiting trail have also heavily impacted the program. Since her arrival, the Iowa State swimming and diving team has compiled 48 dual meet wins over the course of eight years, which is the highest eight-year total in program history. With Nordell on staff, the Cyclones have also earned top-three finishes at the Big 12 Championship the last three seasons. Both were the best finishes for an Iowa State team at a conference meet in the Big 12 era at the time. The streak of top-three finishes it Iowa State’s first at a conference championship in more than 20 years.
A University of Arizona alum, Nordell served as the head coach of the Des Moines Swimming Federation from 2001-08, developing the top Senior Girl’s program in the state and rejuvenating girls’ swimming in Central Iowa. In 2007, Nordell coached two of the fastest 17-18 year old female sprinters in the country.
Prior to joining the Des Moines Swimming Federation, Nordell served as an assistant coach and associate head coach at Nebraska from 1988-2001. She coached 24 NCAA All-Americans and 34 conference champions while six of her swimmers posted times that ranked in the top-100 in the world. Her swimmers also earned CoSIDA Academic All-America recognition four times.
From 1994-98, Nordell was head coach of the USS/YMCA Swim Team in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she transformed a recreation team into a state championship squad. She was instrumental in increasing the team membership by 100 percent.
Nordell was a three-time NCAA qualifier at Arizona and team captain during the 1984-85 season. Nordell specialized in middle distance events while swimming for the Wildcats.
Nordell is the daughter of Dallas Long, who earned a gold medal in the shot put at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and a bronze medal in 1960 in Rome. Nordell resides in Urbandale with her husband, Robert, and three children, RJ, Emma and Peter.