Courtesy of Elizabethtown Athletic Communications
ELIZABETHTOWN, Pa. -- Elizabethtown College announced the hiring of former three-time NCAA Division II national champion and United States Olympic Trials qualifier Melissa Gates as head swimming coach and aquatics director on Thursday.
"We are thrilled to welcome Melissa Gates to lead the Blue Jay swim teams and serve as our aquatics director," said Director of Athletics Chris Morgan. "Melissa's passion for the sport and desire to see our student-athletes succeed in and out of the pool makes her an excellent fit for E-town and will serve our programs well."
Gates' job transition takes her 18 miles west, but she remains in Lancaster County after spending the previous two seasons as the aquatics director and assistant coach under Ben Delia at nearby Franklin & Marshall College.
"I am very excited to begin coaching the swim teams and leading the aquatics program at Elizabethtown College," Gates said. "I immediately felt welcomed by Chris Morgan and the incredible coaching staff from the moment I stepped on campus. I am thrilled to be a part of this department and look forward to enhancing the student-athlete experience at Elizabethtown."
The Diplomat men and women combined to win 20 medals at the Centennial Conference Championships during Gates' time at F&M. Both squads placed fourth at the conference meet in 2018, with the men's team claiming an impressive 12 medals highlighted by gold from the 200-yard medley relay and Eric Dietrich-Peterson in the 100 butterfly.
Freshman Chris Schiavone was part of four medal-winning relays, while also taking silver in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle races. Schiavone competed in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle at the NCAA Division III Championships in Indianapolis in March.
The F&M men were also fourth at the 2017 Centennial Conference Championships on the strength of six medals, while the women placed fifth as a team and had two individuals medal to conclude Gates' first season with the program.
Gates hopes those experiences will help translate to success with the Blue Jays.
"I believe both the men's and women's teams have a great deal of potential at Elizabethtown and I am looking forward to a successful upcoming season," she stated. "My goal for both teams is to have more swimmers in the hunt for points at the Landmark Conference Championships and to break school records."
Gates was the head varsity and junior varsity swim coach at Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles, California during the 2015-16 school year. She led the Pandas to a Sunshine League championship and a seventh-place finish (of 48 teams) at the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section Division 3 meet.
Prior to her time on the West Coast, Gates coached with the Rock Hill YMCA Rays in Rock Hill, South Carolina (2015) and the Midtown Athletic Club in Bannockburn, Illinois (2014).
Gates, a Leola, Pennsylvania native, was a three-time national champion and 10-time NCAA DII All-American swimmer at California University of Pennsylvania. She won back-to-back national titles in the 50-yard freestyle as a junior (2011) and senior (2012) and was the 2012 champion in the 100 freestyle. Her time of 22.62 in the 50 freestyle national championship race in 2012 was an NCAA Division II record at the time.
The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) named Gates its Swimmer of the Year in 2012 and she continues to hold conference and conference championship records in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle and as a member of the Vulcans' 400 freestyle relay. Gates established nine school records (four individual, five relay).
Gates received her bachelor's degree in environmental science from California (Pa.) in 2012. She continued to swim competitively following graduation, qualifying for the 2012 and 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.