Michael Camper enters his fifth season on staff with the University of Kentucky swimming and diving program for the 2022-23 season. He was promoted to an associate head coach in July 2021, previously serving as an assistant coach for three years from 2018-21.
Camper helped guide Kentucky to a stellar 2021-22 campaign, which saw 10 Wildcats earn All-America status and 13 student-athletes receive All-SEC accolades. The women took 12th at NCAA’s while the men finished 31st. In all, 12 women qualified for NCAA’s, combining for 33 entries, while four men received bids across seven events. The UK women put on another strong performance at the SEC Championships, placing second at the meet with 1043 points and three individual champions.
The 2020-21 season was one of the history books, as the UK women won their first-ever SEC Championship title with a program-record 1,124 points. The Wildcats collected 12 medals while the 800 free relay gave UK the first SEC relay title since 2007. Ten women also landed on All-SEC teams, including five on the First-Team.
A school-record 14 UK women were invited to the 2021 NCAA Championships, besting the previous record of 10 and tying for the third-most swimmers invited that season. Those 14 Wildcats combined for 35 entries total, which is also a school record. UK finished 11th with 152 points at NCAAs, marking their best team finish in school history as well as the most points scored, and also their fourth-straight year in the top-15. Kentucky collected 23 All-America honors – eight First Team and 15 Honorable Mention – yet another school record.
The men’s team also saw success during the 2020-21 campaign. The UK men finished seventh at the 2021 SEC Championships with 759 points, the highest score in program history. Two swimmers were invited to compete at the 2021 NCAA Championships, with Zane Rosely becoming the first UK male freshman swimmer since 2013 to earn a bid. Rosely was also named to the All-SEC Freshman Team.
Additionally, nine Wildcat swimmers competed at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, where Sophie Sorenson and Gillian Davey both advanced to the semifinals in the 100-meter and 200-meter back and 200-meter breast, respectively.
To start the 2019-20 season, the women’s team defeated Indiana for the first time in more than 10 years, with their last victory coming in 2007. At the 2020 SEC Championships, the women’s team finished in third place for the third time in four years, earning a then-program-high 987.5 points. There, the women’s rallied one gold medal, four silver medals, six bronze medals and broke three school records. Following the SEC Championships, a then-school-record 10 Kentucky female swimmers earned an invitation to the 2020 NCAA Championships to compete in a combined 23 events, which was also a school record at the time.
The men’s team had an outstanding 2019-20 season, too, led by a group of experienced and determined senior swimmers. The men’s team finished in seventh place at the 2020 SEC Championships on a then-program-high 724 points. The men’s team rallied one gold medal, two silver medals, one bronze medal, and broke seven school records at the SEC Championships. In the process, the men’s team rallied a bronze finish in the 400 freestyle relay, the men’s program’s first swimming podium finish at the SEC Championships in more than seven years. Afterward, five Kentucky male swimmers earned an invitation to the 2020 NCAA Championships, the most individual male swimmers the program has qualified for the “big dance” since 2009-10.
During the 2018-19 season, 10 swimmers earned a combined 22 All-America honors. In the process, the UK women finished 15th at the 2019 NCAA Championships – its third straight top-15 finish at the national meet – and placed third at the Southeastern Conference Championships, tying its best finish in program history at the league meet. Meanwhile, the men earned its first top-25 finish, placing 25th, at the NCAA Championships in seven seasons (since 2012-13) and finished in seventh at the league meet.
Prior to arriving in Lexington, Camper served as the assistant coach at the University of Pittsburgh in 2017-18. There, he helped the Panthers achieve success at the men’s and women’s ACC Championships and helped lead four women to NCAA Championships appearances.
Camper earned his collegiate coaching start in 2016-17 with the University at Buffalo as an assistant coach. Working primarily with the middle distance and sprint groups, he helped the Bulls place third in the Mid-American Conference at both the men’s and women’s meets, marking the women’s team’s highest MAC finish in program history at the time.
As a student-athlete at North Carolina State University, Camper was a three-year captain and helped steadily transform Wolfpack swimming and diving into one of the nation’s premier programs.
NC State finished fifth at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships during Camper’s freshman (2012) and sophomore (2013) seasons before vaulting to second place in the conference in 2014 before the Wolfpack men won the ACC title in 2015, Camper’s senior year. Camper was an All-ACC and All-America performer during his time in Raleigh.
Camper debuted in coaching with several club programs after graduating from NC State in 2015. He served as head site coach at Massad YMCA and an assistant coach for Rappahannock Area YMCA Stingrays in his hometown of Fredericksburg, Va. He also served as head coach for the Olive Chapel Otters and Weatherstone Sharks swimming programs.