Gary Conelly begins his 21st season at the helm of the University of Kentucky swimming programs. The women's squads have compiled a 113-74-1 record since Conelly began coaching the squad in 1991-92. The men, whom he started coaching in 1992-93, have amassed a record of 88-86, bringing his overall coaching record to 201-160-1.
With the UK men placing 17th at the 2009 NCAA Championships it marked Conelly's 15th top-20 finish combined in his tenure at Kentucky. Seven athletes earned All-America status for the Blue and White while the Kentucky teams eclipsed nine new UK records in between the lanes. Junior Megan Pulskamp tapped in second overall in the 100-butterfly at the SEC Championships before earning All-America status in the event at the NCAA Championships.
It was another successful season for Conelly in 2008 as both the men and women placed in the top-20 in the nation at the NCAAs. Led by two of the best swimmers in UK history Jenny and Heather Bradford the women scored an 18th place finish behind a school-best fifth place performance in the 200-free relay. On the men's side, freshman Tyler Reed and junior Warren Grobbelaar paced UK to a 19th place. Reed and Grobbelaar were integral parts in both the individual and relay heats, while Shane Eliason, Alex Forbes and Eric McGinnis all also scored first time All-America nominations. Both teams took fifth place at the annual SEC Championships.
In 2006-07, Conelly's women's squad claimed a school-best 12th place finish at the 2007 NCAA Championships to highlight another quality season for the Wildcats. Conelly guided the 200-freestyle relay team to its first ever top-eight national performance after watching the quartet win the school's first ever relay SEC Championship in February. The women finished fourth for the third consecutive season, while the men placed eighth.
In 2005-06, the Cats were once again a force in the pool. Highlighting the men's accomplishments was senior Steven Manley becoming the school's first SEC Champion in a freestyle event since 1957 when he captured the 200-freestyle crown. The women had a record-breaking season by registering a school-best 597 points, good for a second-consecutive fourth-place finish, at the SEC Championships. The women continued to set new highs at the NCAA Championships by placing 13th and earning 98.5 points.
The 2004-05 season marked one of the best in Conelly's outstanding career at UK. The men had their highest-ever finish at the SEC Championships placing fourth, while the women had their best finish since 1998-99. The men continued their success at the NCAA Championships finishing 12th, the top mark in school history. The women produced the program's third-best NCAA Championships showing by placing 18th. Conelly's 2003-04 men's squad sent the largest men's contingent in school history to the NCAA Championships, with eight different Wildcats heading to East Meadow, N.Y. The 2004 squad earned 15th place, marking the best finish in the history of the program at the time. His UK women's squad sent three student-athletes to the NCAA Championships and moved up three spots to sixth place at the SEC Championships.
In 2002-03, Conelly guided the men's team to its second-highest finish ever in the NCAA championships, a 17th-place showing. Conelly's 2001-02 men's team placed 16th at NCAAs, its highest-ever finish at the time. At the SEC Championships, the men had the second-highest point total in school history (282), finishing in sixth-place. Competing at the NCAAs for the men were juniors Clayton Moss, Roger Watkins and sophomore Joey Faltraco. Faltraco's 11th-place finish in the 200-yard backstroke earned him honorable mention All-America, the first UK athlete to earn the honor in the event, while Moss was an All-American on the one- and three-meter springboards and the platform. The women also competed at the national championships, continuing a string of 10 consecutive appearances.
During the 2000-01 year, Conelly coached the men's team to a NCAA 17th-place finish. UK also attained its highest SEC finish in 18 years, taking fifth. Five individuals from the men's team competed at the NCAAs, seniors Dave Tweedie, Macon White, Aaron Workman and Shaun Zitani and sophomore Roger Watkins, all five of them earning All-America honorable mention. Conelly also guided the women to the NCAAs, where they placed 39th. Seniors Melissa Olson and Jaime Siegele competed at the championships, with Siegele earning All-America honorable mention in the 50-freestyle.
During the 1999-2000 season, Conelly led the men's team to a top-20 finish and had two men qualify for the NCAA championships, both earning honorable mention All-America honors. Four women qualified for the NCAA Championships. The women's 800-freestyle relay captured 12th and earned the women honorable mention All-America honors in addition to competing individually. Following the season, nine Wildcats participated in the 2000 Olympic trials.
In 1998-99, Conelly steered both the men's and women's teams to top-25 finishes at the NCAA Championships. The men finished at No. 24, while the women finished 21st, their fifth consecutive top-25 showing. The women's squad had 10 athletes advance to the NCAA meet, the most in school history.
Conelly and the 1996-97 men's team achieved a 26th-place NCAA finish and Nat Lewis finished third in the 1,650 freestyle and still ranks as the second-highest NCAA finisher in school history. The women secured 24th place and had three team members earn All-America honors.
In the 1995-96 season, Conelly directed the women's team to a 14th-place finish at the NCAA Championships, the highest finish in school history. In 1994-95, Conelly led the women's team to a fourth-place finish at the SEC Championships and a second straight 19th-place finish at the NCAA Championships. Conelly was named 1995 SEC Women's Coach of the Year for his efforts.
In Conelly's 18 years with UK, the swimming and diving programs have made great strides. In 1990, Conelly coached the team's first female All-American and NCAA finalist, Kellie Moran. Since then,49 more Wildcat swimmers have garnered All-America accolades under Conelly's tutelage.
Prior to becoming head coach at Kentucky, Conelly spent three years with UK as a graduate assistant coach.
Conelly came to the University of Kentucky from the West Florida Lightning Aquatics USS team in Largo, Fla. During his seven years at West Florida, Conelly directed 150 swimmers and produced three Olympic Trial qualifiers, two National Sports Festival team members, and one Sports Festival champion in the 100-backstroke.
As a swimmer, Conelly was a member of the 1972 U.S. Olympic Team, and he participated on the world record-setting 400-meter freestyle relay team. An Indiana University alumnus, Conelly was a 15-time NCAA All-American and is a member of the Indiana Swimming Hall of Fame. In 1973, Indiana honored him with the Balfour Award for excellence in swimming, leadership, and scholarship.
Conelly is married to Kathleen Healey and has two children, Cody and Emily.