SwimRVA is fortunate to have a highly-skilled, experienced team of aquatics leaders from around the Richmond area and around the country. From our front office staff to our water polo coaches, we’re as friendly and welcoming as we are passionate and driven.
Tess has been an avid competitive swimmer for as far back as she can remember. Growing up, her second home was at the pool. During high school in New Jersey she was introduced to the world of open water swimming and was hooked for life.
Tess swam for the Wingate University Bulldogs in North Carolina as she continued to look for more and more open water swimming opportunities. Summer is truly her training season and this season Tess will be swimming the 4.4 mile Great Chesapeake Bay swim as well as attempting to complete the Full Distance of the SwimRVA Open H2O Series which includes 2-mi, 4.4-mi and 10-mi swims.
Coaching with the SwimRVA Hammerheads program has given Tess the chance to share her love of swimming with others. In addition to being a lessons coach for the SwimRVA Hammerheads, she was also a coach for Peluso Open Water and the Head Coach of the Dolphin Club Winter Swim team for the past 10 years.
Tess is in her 10th year teaching science at Seven Hills School.
Scott Bennett is a Richmond native. He grew up around water and swimming for summer leagues, and has a box of ribbons to prove it! Scott studied Recreation, Parks and Tourism Management at Radford University. He worked as the Facility Coordinator for the Christiansburg Aquatic Center before coming back home. He now enjoys sharing the amazing stories of the clients he serves at SwimRVA as the Director of Communications. He also enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife, three crazy young boys and his dog.
Sarah is from Vassalboro, Maine and loves the outdoors. Some of her favorite things about the outdoors include camping, four wheeling, swimming and, bonfires. Sarah’s favorite thing about SwimRVA is the members. She loves interacting with them and seeing them progress and grow. That is genuinely her favorite part of her job.
Ed Boyle completed his first triathlon in 1992 and has been swimming competitively since 1964. Ed swam at Ginter Park, and later with the VCU-AAU team.
A four- time Ironman finisher and ROKA FOTW (first out of the water) in his Age Group at IM Louisville, Ed has also completed a number of 70.3’s and is the owner of JachinBoaz Triathlon Training (Jay-Kin Boaz). He works with athletes at the 70.3 and 140.6 distances and enjoys working with newbies to the sport as well as older athletes.
Ed is a Level 2 USMS Certified Coach and a USAT Level 1 Coach. He is also a F.I.S.T. certified bike fitter using a dynamic fit Retül Bike with video capture technology resulting in digital reports and videos to record your bike fit metrics.
Coach Ben started swimming at 3 with the Chesterfield Aquatic League (CAL) from 3 until 18, and the Y- League from 3 until 18, where he also coached for five years! He swam while out Kansas for a period before coming to SwimRVA. Being a sprint swimmer, Coach Ben loves swimming the 50 Free and 100 Free. A couple of his favorite locations to swim were at KU and Florida. Ben wants to make sure Rapids swimmers become well rounded teammates, saying, “I want kids to get fun, learning, and a sense of unity from being a member of this team.”
Coach Sarah started swimming at the age of 5 and never looked back! Sarah is a past swimmer for Liberty University and the Dolphin Club, where she first met Coach Jonathan. Her current focus is the Olympic Trials cut in 2020! Her favorite race is the Individual Medley (IM), and often sings AC/DC in her head while she practices. Sarah’s leadership skills have also developed over the years. She taught swim lessons and coached summer league teams throughout her high school career, and started coaching yearlong with Coach Jonathan at the Dolphin Club. Coach Sarah will be around all levels of Rapids swimmers, especially during Class 2(Advanced Novice), Class 4(Junior), Class 5(Senior) practices. “I want the kids to get the family atmosphere; this being a safe space for them, to come here to get away from everything.”
Brad’s love for the water started at age 4, when he began swimming during the summer. At 9, that grew to include year-round swimming which extended through his time as team captain at JMU. Brad began lifeguarding and repairing pools in his teen years and can commonly be found rooting around in a pump room somewhere at SwimRVA. Brad also enjoys snowboarding, cycling, and going on adventures with his daughter and dog.
Coach Kallie is a Richmond native that found her way back via swimming! Like many budding athletes Kallie started her swimming career in summer league. Her yearlong swimming career began with BACS, then transitioned to Poseidon where she competed in the 2008 Olympic Trials. She would go on to swim for Arizona State University and would again qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials. Coach Kallie’s coaching history successfully complements her swimming experience. Her first coaching experience came when she worked as the assistant coach for a summer league team her senior year of high school. After college she was an assistant coach for Poseidon for a year before attending graduate school, and coached Southampton summer league before coming to SwimRVA! Her personal goal for the SwimRVA Rapids is to make sure each swimmer retains their enjoyment out of the sport. “Success is pushed a lot, and that’s definitely part of it [swimming], but the sheer joy is something important to incorporate.” Catch her helping all the swimmers, especially Class 3(Age Group)!
Jacob is born and raised in Richmond. Jacob studied Biology and Pre-Med at VCU. Jacobs favorite place to eat in Richmond would have to be Burger Bach. He highly recommends the east coast burger, the blueberry chipotle sauce makes the burger. A cool fact about Jacob is he is a competitive baton twirler and ranked 3rd in the nation, and was selected for the USA team for worlds in 2018.
Hollie is from Chesterfield, Virginia and works close with the community she a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). She also went on to study Business Administration. Hollie’s favorite thing about SwimRVA is the fun and safe family atmosphere. She loves seeing all of our members achieve their personal goals and strive to do better. Fun Fact about Hollie is she is big into concerts and has been to more than 50. Elvis Presley is included in that list.
A native of Chesapeake VA, Benjamin is a creative strategist and dedicated team-player. After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2017 with a B.S. in Marketing, Benjamin joined SwimRVA as a Communications Coordinator. He works to promote the SwimRVA mission at every level, both digitally and in-person. Outside of work, Benjamin volunteers as the Chapter Advisor for the University of Richmond Chapter and the Secretary for the Greater Richmond Alumni Colony of Alpha Kappa Psi.
Jacob has been with SwimRVA for two years and serves as the Head Water Polo Coach and Coaching Specialist at SwimRVA which encompasses the SwimRVA Water Polo program, Learn-To-Swim program, SwimRVA Swim School and the SwimRVA Autism Swims program. Jacob has an extensive background in swimming, both coaching, and competing. He joined his first swim team when he was 5 years old and continued until he started coaching at 18 years old. In high school, Jacob was captain of the swim team and the lacrosse team. He played water polo for two summers while helping organize the Lake Ridge Water Polo club. In the summer of 2018 Jacob also served as the head coach for Meadowbrook Country Club.
Jonathan comes to SwimRVA after a very successful two years as the head coach at the Dolphin Club in Richmond. In two years Jonathan grew the club from 63 to 183 athletes. Jonathan believes in each child’s potential and growing relationships one swimmer, one family at a time. While at Dolphin Club, the team improved in USA Swimming’s virtual club rankings from 31st to 23rd in the state and 1955th to 958th nationally. At Virginia Swimming’s age group champs the team improved from 30th (27 points) to 15th (291 points) and his girls team finished 9th overall, while also having a Top 15 team finish (Top 10 Girls) at Senior Champs for the first time in team history.
Prior to Dolphin Club, Jonathan served as the assistant director of competitive swimming at YMCA of Triangle Area. As head coach of the Gold group he tutored 50 YMCA National qualifiers, 5 YMCA national finalists, 12 NCSA Junior National qualifiers, 2 USA-Swimming Winter Junior National and 1 USA-Swimming Winter National qualifier. Jonathan helped YOTA grow to 600 members and earn Top 25 rankings in USA Swimming’s Virtual Club Championship. While at YOTA, Jonathan worked with over 130 athletes with video instruction and stroke analyzation.
Before heading to Raleigh, Kaplan coached in Richmond for NOVA of Virginia Aquatics as the head coach of the Senior Silver group and assistant coach of Senior Gold. Jonathan’s Senior Silver group included 16 NCSA Junior National, 6 USA Swimming Winter Junior National and 1 USA Swimming Winter National Championship qualifier, 1 National Age Group Record participant, and 14 Virginia State Records. While at NOVA the team earned a 3rd place overall team finish at the 2014 Spring NCSA Championships, an overall Virginia State Championship and a 6th place overall team ranking in the USA Swimming Virtual Club Championships. Jonathan help in the organization and create of the first ever Henrico County high school swimming program.
From 2006 to 2013 Jonathan was the head swim coach of the Panama City Swim Team. While head coach the year round membership grew from 65 to 250 members. PCST earned bronze medal club status for USA Swimming Club Excellence. In 2012, PCST had its first ever swimmer compete at the USA Swimming Olympic Team Trials. In addition, Kaplan tutored 3 swimmers who qualified for USA Swimming’s Summer National Championship, 3 qualifiers to USA Swimming’s Summer Junior National Championship, 11 NCSA qualifiers, 1 USA Swimming Junior National Runner Up, 1 US Open Finalist, 5 SES Champions, 2 LSC records, 3 HS All-Americans and 6 Florida High School State Champions. In 2011, PCST won Southeastern Swimming Medium Team Championship. 17 of Kaplan’s swimmers went on to compete in the NCAA. One of Jonathan’s greatest accomplishments includes the fortune of coaching a high school valedictorian in 6 consecutive years while at PCST.
Jonathan is a graduate of Florida State University where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Sport Management and his Master of Science in Sport Administration. He resides in Richmond with his wife, Jessica, and their two sons Rowan and Finlay. Needless to say, he and his family are excited for the Rise of the Rapids here with SwimRVA!
Debbie is our Director of Programs at SwimRVA and more affectionately known as “The Brains” of the operation. Debbie has her Bachelor’s degree in physical education and business; she studied sports management for her Master’s and received a Doctorate in adult education and human resource development.
Nicole LePere was born and raised in Southern California. She started swimming at age five for Fullerton Aquatics Sports Team (FAST) and later with her high school as well.
Nicole moved to Virginia to attend & swim at the University of Richmond where she held the school and A10 conference records in the 200 backstroke. As a team captain she also earned the Helen Reba Humbert Award for athletic, leadership and scholarly attributes and was inducted into the Hall of Fame with the 2010-2011 Swimming & Diving team.
In 2009 Nicole qualified and competed in USA Swimming’s World Championship Trials in the 100 and 200 backstroke. She followed that up with the 2010 National Championships.
After college, she switched gears to marathon running and triathlons and recently competed in the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships. She also serves on the Executive Committee for the Sports Backers Presidents Council to help make the Richmond community more active and healthy!
Rose has lived in Richmond, Virginia for 42 years and has enjoyed every minute of it. She loves how low key Richmond is compared to NOVA where she use to live. Rose has her B.F.A. in painting and printmaking.Rose loves teaching classes here at SwimRVA and seeing the active older adults achieve their goals.
Danielle was born and raised here Richmond, Virginia. Danielle is pursuing her degree and study Early Childhood Education. Danielle’s favorite thing about SwimRVA is their mission to elevate swimming in the Richmond region making water safety and aquatic fitness more accessible to all, and her time being a swimming instructor for SwimRVA.
Coach Steve has loved being in the water for as long as he can remember. “My older sister was a swimmer, so my brother and I tagged along to the pool,” said Coach Steve. He would follow in his sister’s footsteps, swimming competitively up to his graduation from Penn State. After graduation Steve took time away from swimming to work in the corporate world, but always kept his passion for the sport. “After awhile I realized that coaching was something I wanted to get back in to, and the opportunity to join the Rapids was perfect.” Catch Coach Steve working primarily with the Class 1 (Novice), Class 4 (Junior) and Class 5 (Senior) Rapids groups!
Gerard joined SwimRVA in the spring of 2016 and currently uses his creative skills to execute a wide variety of communication tasks for the organization, such as video production, design, social media, strategy and storytelling. A native of RVA, Gerard graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Creative Advertising.
Alejandra is from Panama City, Panama She has her Bachelors in International Affairs and is working on her Masters in Sports Leadership. Some of her favorite things about Richmond would include the river, running trails, and all the amazing food and places to eat in Richmond. Alejandra actually use to participate in Horse show jumping. She also got to go to the first 2010 youth Olympic games in Singapore.
Jay Peluso, a two-time All-American swimmer, hails from Cumberland, RI and is the head coach for the SwimRVA Hammerheads.
He graduated from UMass with a degree in Sports Management where he was a seven time New England Swimming Champion and a starter on the 1993 New England Champion water polo squad. He earned his law degree from the University of Richmond in 1996 and was inducted into the RI Aquatics Hall of Fame in 2004. Coach Jay’s triathlon and open water career highlights include being a five-time member of USAT’s Age Group World Championship team and a second place finish at the USMS 2-Mile Cable Swim National Championships.
He is currently the Co-Owner and Race Director for the IGNITE SwimRun Series, the first ever multi-state SwimRun series in the U.S.
Alice Phillips has been a masters swimmer for over 20 years. In this time she has enjoyed participating in local and regional events, setting some state records, and finishing in the top ten at Nationals. Alice is currently looking for new ways to add to her swimming resume by trying open water events in fun new locations and working on pool events and distances that are less familiar to her. She loves learning and sharing in the adventure of adult competition with her teammates.
Alice also coached for 14 years at Trinity Episcopal School where her teams won numerous awards and she earned several Coach of the Year honors. For the past two years she has jumped back into the summer league scene as a coach at Salisbury Country Club. Teaching kids to swim and race well is a challenge she also really enjoys. When not on deck in one capacity or another, Alice teaches high school science, works in her garden, and loves to try new recipes. She has been married for 27 years and has a daughter, 21, and a son, 18.
Rebecca has worked in aquatics for more than half of her life (17 years and counting!). She loves everything about it, but her particular passion has always been to help provide opportunities for people to get in and enjoy the water who would not normally do so. In addition to everything from parent-child sessions to adult swim training, she has also taught lifeguard certification classes to Richmond area lifesavers for 6 years. A dedicated water safety advocate, she also manages our in-house lifeguards and helps to ensure that the day-to-day operations of our complex run smoothly.
Natalie was born and raised in Richmond, VA she has always been connected to the water and started swimming at a young age. She joined the NOVA Swim Team back in 1997 until 2010. As a child Natalie learned to swim that to the generosity of other people. Natalie says working at SwimRVA she has an outstanding opportunity to pay that service forward to people in my community. Natalie’s favorite thing about Richmond is the James River Park System and Richmond’s beautiful outdoor spaces.
Margaret Rechel, an American Swimming Coaching Association Level 2 Coach, has been a competitive swimmer since birth. Being the youngest of three very athletic swimming siblings, she was raised at swimming pools in Columbus, Ohio. She quickly developed a passion for swimming while setting multiple country club league records. After captaining her high school team, she swam for four years at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan and was a major force as a freestyler in continuing the women’s team streak of 10 consecutive conference championships.
Margaret trains regularly in the water herself, using the time to develop creative techniques to help her athletes overcome specific training obstacles. Margaret takes great pride in enabling her swimmers to become ‘one with the water,’ improve technique, drop times, and most importantly, enjoy swimming.
Margaret’s multi-sport highlights include her 2017 IRONMAN Florida Top-10 finish, 2016 Sub 6-hr 70.3 finish as well as her Overall number 1 National Ranking in Aqua-Bike. She is the current LMSC record holder in the 50m, 200, 400m, & 800m Freestyle for W18-24.
Kris was born in Buffalo, NY. His father was in the Air Froce so he grew up all over living in New Mexico, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Las Vegas NV, South Dakota, Maryland, Florida, Chicago IL and now Richmond VA! He studied Phsycology with a focus on child development and research mtheods. Kris also got a minor in Sociology. He fell in love with the samll-town vibes with big city attractions that Richmond offers. He has a passion for helping kids and believes SwimRVA’s ability to educate is what makes it such a great place to work and that desire to teach helps breed an environment the promotes growth and development in everyone thats involved. Also, Kris has performed stand-up comedy and hopes to pursue it professionally one day.
Renee graduated from James Madison University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Health Sciences and a concentration in Health Assessment and Promotion. She is currently the Head Wellness Coach at SwimRVA, where she continues to follow her passion of promoting health and fitness by helping others meet their wellness goals.
Coach Dan grew up swimming competitively in Buffalo, NY. He swam varsity for 6 years and continued to compete in college, swimming for SUNY Geneseo. After his college swimming career, he was able to turn his full attention to triathlon, getting started in the WNY short course scene before stepping up to long course racing.
Dan combines his passion for teaching and endurance sports as a swimming and triathlon coach. He has coaching certifications from USA Triathlon and Ironman.
Consistently out of the water with the lead swim group, his most memorable accomplishments include finishing 4th overall at Ironman Maryland, 8th overall at Ironman Louisville, winning his age group at Ironman Lake Placid, qualifying for 70.3 and full Ironman World Championships.
Prior to planting roots in Richmond, Dan coached his former high school varsity boys team. One of his fondest coaching memories was helping one of his seniors break his own 100 butterfly school record.