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Paul Schiffel
Paul Schiffel has been with Lenoir-Rhyne since 2007.
photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics

Lenoir-Rhyne’s Schiffel Announced Retirement from Swim Programs

Lenoir-Rhyne Men’s and Women’s Swimming Head Coach Paul Schiffel has announced that he will retire at the end of the academic year. Hired at LR in April 2007, Schiffel became Lenoir-Rhyne’s first-ever women’s swimming head coach and also built the men’s program when it came aboard three years later.

“I cannot thank Paul Schiffel enough for all he has done for Lenoir-Rhyne and for the positive impact he has had on our campus and the broader community,” said Vice President for Athletics Kim Pate. “Coach Schiffel has been the architect of LR swimming and has developed a culture of excellence in the classroom, the community, and the pool. He has positively affected the lives of so many student-athletes both at LR and in the broader swimming community. We wish Paul and his family all the best in retirement.”

At Lenoir-Rhyne, Schiffel coached Chelsea Kyle to become the Bears first-ever NCAA Division II All-American in the 200-yard butterfly in 2012. Micah McRea became the first male All-American in program history in 2020. McRea and Lisa Boernigen went to four straight NCAA National Meets and McRea earned All-American status in all four of his years at LR. Schiffel helped the Bears transition from the Bluegrass Mountain Conference to the South Atlantic Conference and has helped maintain Shuford Pool. In the first-ever SAC Championship appearance, Schiffel guided the men’s program to a third-place finish and McRea brought home two gold medals, one silver and four bronzes. Boernigen claimed a pair of silvers and a trio of bronzes for the women while Ella Penny and Kayana Taylor each had four bronzes. Schiffel also coached Kimberly Scheiber to a two-time NCAA qualifier who earned All-American status in 2020.

Schiffel’s teams have also stood out for the work they do outside of the pool. The men’s and women’s teams have been named CSCAA Scholar All-American programs for the majority of Schiffel’s tenure and the men’s team posted the highest team GPA of any DII men’s swimming program in the nation last year. They have also ranked in the top 10 in community service hours by a swimming program in each of the past five years and the men’s team was the number one program among all sports and teams at the DII level last year. The women ranked number one among female swimming program a season ago. Last year, McRea and Boernigen were the second and third CSC Academic All-Americans from the swimming program in team history. His athletes have also consistently been in contention, or have won, the prestigious Rufus Moretz Scholar Athlete award at LR.

“I left Hickory for two years in 1984 but felt drawn to return by a very distinct sense of home; the Hickory community and LRU will always be HOME,” said Schiffel. “I feel a great debt of gratitude to so many special people including: Ron Hight for reaching out to me at ECU and bringing me to the Hickory swimming community in 1978; Keith Ochs for sharing his vision with me for an intercollegiate swimming program; Neill McGeachy for hiring me as the first LRU swimming coach; Kim Pate for administrative guidance; Lenoir-Rhyne University for their support in allowing me to continue to teach and develop young swimmers through the CVAC Swim Team, many of whom became LRU swimmer scholar athletes; First United Methodist Church for spiritual guidance for me and for their outreach to LRU athletes, particularly swimmers; and finally, my wife of 49 years, Catherine Schiffel for supporting my swimming habit and my swimmers, often creating a sense of home away from home for the team.”

Schiffel also serves as the Owner and Coach of the Catawba Valley Aquatics Club and had been the Head Coach of the Men’s and Women’s Swimming Teams at St. Stephens High School from its inception in 1992 and lasting 15 years. Schiffel also served as the head Coach of the Hickory Seahorse Swim Team (1978-84 and 1986-89) and coached a swimmer who later became a two-time NCAA Division II All-American (2000 and 2002).

In May 2016, Schiffel was inducted into the prestigious Catawba County Sports Hall of Fame.

Schiffel brought state and national leadership experience to LR with his years of service in US Swimming, serving as NC General Chairman from 1984-89.

Schiffel graduated from East Carolina University in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education and earned his master’s degree from ECU in 1981. A member of the ECU men’s team, Schiffel earned team MVP honors as a junior and served as an assistant coach for the Pirates from 1975-78.

Schiffel is a retired Physical Education Teacher at St. Stephens Elementary School.

The LR athletic department will host a reception later this spring to celebrate Coach Schiffel’s impact on both the LR and broader Hickory Community. Date, time, and location to be announced at a later date.