Nelson takes over for Heather Dockins who guided the Sharks the previous two seasons. Nelson, who still owns nine swimming records for the Sikeston Sharks, said swimming is in her blood.
"I've done it my entire life," Nelson said. "I was raised in a pool. My parents threw me on the swim team when I was four-years-old and I've had an aunt that was coach, my sister was the coach and my dad was a coach for a while."
With all of her years of experience, Nelson says bringing team unity to the swimmers is one of her goals.
"The strength of the teams that I saw last year were they had a lot of team pride and I think that will be a big strength for us if we can get it," Nelson said. "Team unity and just improving on our individual performances will be big keys for us."
Nelson has a strong group of returning swimmers to work with. Among the key returners are Lauren Medley (16), Sam Gleason (12), Taylor Allen (15), Amanda Allen (10) and Morgan Fraser (11).
"Natalie Stevens (8) was in the bottom of her age group last year and was able to make the top five in one of her strokes," Nelson said. "She and Morgan Cashmer (8) are going to be a real pleasure to work with this year."
While Sikeston has many returners, they do have a disadvantage in that they get a later start than most teams in the tough Southeast Missouri Swim Conference.
Sikeston began practice Tuesday morning and had only four days to prepare for their first meet which was held Saturday in Poplar Bluff.
"I think Scott City and Charleston are the only teams that start as late as we do," Nelson said. "All of the other teams have access to indoor pools. We can really tell a difference in the people who participated in our winter program and those who didn't."
Nelson said another thing other swim teams are able to do is give their swimmers more individual attention due to their practice schedule. With Sikeston's two daily practices at one-and-a-half hours each, and the number of swimmers on the team, they aren't able to work one-on-one very often.
But Nelson said that isn't going to stop her and her assistant coaches.
"I want to unite them as a team," Nelson said. "I just want them to have team unity and team pride."
Sikeston will hold their first home swim meet Saturday when they host Dexter, Cape and Scott City.