Kelly Kremer is in his 24th season with the Minnesota swimming and diving staff in 2021-22, currently serving as the Men's and Women's Head Coach.
Most recently, Kremer coached junior Max McHugh to a pair of 2021 NCAA Championship titles and 2021 Big Ten Conference titles in both the 100 and 200 breast, while simultaneously recording the top-six fastest swims in the nation in the former of the two events (50.18). The two NCAA titles stand as Minnesota's first men's NCAA titles since 1996, and first men's swimming title since 1964. McHugh also set new Minnesota team records in both events (50.18 // 1:49.02), breaking records which he had previously set two years prior, and recorded the fastest relay-leg 50 breast split in history at the 2021 Big Ten Championships (22.40). For his efforts, McHugh was unanimously named the 2021 Big Ten Swimmer of the Year, Minnesota's first swimmer to garner the award since Terry Silkaitis did so in 2003.
During the 2019-20 season, Kremer helped coach Max McHugh to a 2020 Big Ten title in the 100 breast, a feat McHugh accomplished while swimming the nation's fastest time of the season in the event (50.67). Before the remainder of the season was canceled due to ongoing COVID-19 public health concerns, McHugh earned the No. 1 NCAA seed in the 100 breast and No. 3 NCAA seed in the 200 breast, where he would have been joined by eight other Gophers on the national stage.
In 2018-19, Kremer coached Bowen Becker (50 free, 100 free) and Max McHugh (100 breast, 200 breast) to All-American honors in 2019, with both having finished as NCAA runners-up. Kremer also helped lead five additional swimmers on the men's side to Honorable Mention All-America honors in the 2018-19 season
In 2015, Kremer led the Gopher women’s swimming and diving team to a fourth straight Big Ten title, becoming the first women’s program at the University of Minnesota to achieve four consecutive conference championships. Kremer is a five-time Big Ten Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year, receiving the honor in 2006 (with co-head coach Terry Ganley), 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. He has coached four NCAA breaststroke champions and multiple Olympians.
Kremer became the first head coach of a combined University of Minnesota men's and women's swimming and diving program on April 12, 2011. He took on this role after 13 years as an assistant, associate head coach and co-head coach with the Gopher men’s and women’s teams.
Kremer, along with Ganley, had taken the Gopher women's program to unprecedented success as co-head coaches from 2004-11. This followed a run of six years as an associate head coach (2002-04) and assistant coach (1998-02) under Dennis Dale with the men's program.
Under Kremer’s tutelage, Jillian Tyler and Haley Spencer won the 2011 NCAA 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke races, respectively. Kierra Smith won the 200 breast in 2015 with what was then the No. 3 time in NCAA history. Before Tyler and Spencer’s feat, the Gophers had only one NCAA women’s swimming champion.
On the men's side, Kremer has coached Max McHugh to the Gophers' most recent NCAA titles, when McHugh secured the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke events at the 2021 national championships. Prior to McHugh's feats, the Gophers had not had a men's swimming title since 1964.
The Gopher women’s team posted 10 consecutive NCAA finishes of 13th place or better from 2006 to 2015, including a program-best ninth-place showing with three individual champions (Kelci Bryant won 1-meter diving) in 2011. Most recently, Minnesota's women placed 10th in 2017 with Yu Zhou winning her second NCAA 3-meter title, Kierra Smith (200) and Lindsey Horejsi (100) earning silver in the breaststroke races and Sarah Bacon placing second in 1-meter. Smith swam the NCAA's second fastest 200 breaststroke time ever recorded (2:03.55) and Horejsi broke the Minnesota record in the 100 (58.03). The men’s team turned in NCAA top-10 finishes from 2000-04, Kremer’s last five years before moving to the women’s side.
Kremer, who works closely with breaststroke, middle distance and distance swimmers, has been the personal coach for numerous All-America performances during his time at Minnesota. During the five seasons of Kremer’s tenure as head coach of the joint program, the women’s team has tallied 52 individual and 18 relay All-America honors. The men have earned 25 individual and eight relay accolades in that time, including honorable mention for Conner McHugh in both breaststroke events in 2017.
BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
Kremer has been on the staff of eight total Big Ten championship teams at Minnesota. Before the women’s run of four titles from 2012-15, they also won in 2008 with Kremer and Ganley as co-head coaches. Kremer was on the men’s staff for three titles, as an assistant coach in 2001 and 2002 and the associate head coach in 2004.
Kremer has been the personal coach for more than 30 Big Ten individual title performances at Minnesota. Among the notable achievements at Big Tens, Max McHugh won the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke events in 202, while in 2015, Kierra Smith won both the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke, and Brooke Zeiger won the 400-yard individual medley. The Gophers have dominated the women's Big Ten breaststroke events in recent years, having won 14 titles since 2008.
The Gopher women won four gold medals at the 2017 Big Ten Championships, including a conference record-setting 200-yard medley relay. 100-yard backstroke champion Tevyn Waddell was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Yu Zhou was named Diver of the Championships and Diver of the Year after adding two more springboard gold medals.
Kremer has coached seven Gophers who have made the Olympic Games.
Most recently, Bowe Becker won the gold medal as part of men's 4x100m freestyle relay, winning in a time of 3:08.97, at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Becker became the seventh Gopher in history to medal at the Olympic Games, the sixth to do so for Team USA and the fourth to earn gold.
In addition to Becker, James Freeman represented Botswana at the 2020 Games, while Kierra Smith qualified to represent Canada at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics. Kremer also coached Canadians Jillian Tyler (2008, 2012) and Mike Brown (2004, 2008), as well as 2000 Olympians Keam Ang (Malaysia) and Yoav Meiri (Israel).
Kremer served as an assistant coach for the USA men at the 2013 World University Games in Russia. One of his former charges on the women’s side, Ashley Steenvoorden, won silver and bronze medals at the event.
Kremer previously served as an assistant coach to Team USA at the 2011 Pan American Games in Mexico, and coached Haley Spencer to the silver medal in the 200-meter breaststroke. Ashley Steenvoorden, represented Team USA based on winning the 400-meter freestyle at the 2011 USA National Championships.
Kremer’s previous international coaching experience included serving as Team Mexico’s head coach at the 2002 Short Course World Championships in Moscow, and assisting on Team USA’s staff at the 2004 World Cup meet in Melbourne.
GOPHERS IN THE CLASSROOM
The success has not been limited to the pool under Kremer's watch. Minnesota regularly earns CSCAA Scholar All-America Team status, including both the men’s and women’s teams for both semesters of the 2015-16 season. The Gophers have posted at least a dozen Academic All-Big Ten selections in each season with the women's program. The men have had at least 11 honorees in each of Kremer’s seasons in charge of both programs.
Kaylee Jamison became the first Gopher to earn GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team honors in 2011. Jenny Shaughnessy was a second team GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2009. In 2015, both Jessica Plant and Chris Johnson received the Big Ten Postgraduate Scholarship. Plant also collected the Wayne Duke Award and Big Ten Medal of Honor. She was a Rhodes Scholarship finalist and a nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year for her excellence as a student-athlete.
A native of Mandan, N.D., Kremer began his coaching career in 1988 with the Springfield Aquatics Swim Team in Springfield, Mo. From 1992-94, Kremer was the graduate assistant coach for Drury University, also in Springfield. He served as head coach for John Brown University for one year, 1994-95, before moving to Mission Viejo, Calif., to serve as assistant National Team coach to Bill Rose and the Mission Viejo Nadadores from 1995-98.
As an athlete, Kelly finished fifth in the 100 backstroke at the 1991 US Open and participated in the 1992 Olympic Trials in the same event. During his collegiate career, he was a 24-time NAIA National Champion and 29-time NAIA All-American for Drury University, and was elected to the school's Sports Hall of Fame in the summer of 1997. Coach Kremer owns both a B.A. and M.Ed. in education, both from Drury.