Orinda Aquatics Coaching Staff


Ron, Kevin, Sophie, Marc, Matt, Don

The coaching staff of Orinda Aquatics brings extensive experience, strong ties to the community, and a deep passion for coaching and working with children to the team.  The team is run by its two co-founders, Ron and Don Heidary. Both have enjoyed tremendous success at the recreational, high school, and USA Swimming levels. They have a combined 70 years of coaching experience and are ASCA Level 5 certified at both the USA Swimming and High School levels.

In 1984 with just twelve swimmers, Ron and Don created the Polar Bear Fall Swimming program. The program currently hosts over 500 Fall Swimmers in the Lamorinda area.  From the Fall Program, in 1995, they created the year-round team, Orinda Aquatics. From a humble beginning with twenty recreational swimmers, the year-round program has achieved remarkable success while averaging 100 YR swimmers over its lifetime. In the year 2000, Orinda Aquatics was possibly the youngest and smallest team to ever win Junior Nationals (short course in Anchorage, Alaska).  Orinda Aquatics qualified twenty swimmers for the long course Junior Nationals that year and had the second most entries in the meet.  And with less than eighty year-round swimmers, the team has also won Sectionals, Far Westerns, and the Pacific Swimming Age-Group Championships, and had twelve (current or former) OA swimmers qualify for the 2008 Olympic Trials, with two - Kim Vandenberg (800 Free Relay) and Peter Varellas (Water Polo) making the team and receiving medals.

Orinda Aquatics has been a perennial Silver Medal Club in USA Swimming's Club Excellence program and is a Level 4 team in USA Swimming’s Club Recognition Program (only the second in the Western Zone to reach this level).  Orinda Aquatics consistently finishes among the top “smaller” clubs in USA Swimming’s Virtual Club Championships, finishing first in 2009 for teams under 150 members.  For each of the past fifteen years, the team has averaged : six to ten Junior National, fifteen Santa Clara Grand Prix, thirty-five Sectional qualifiers, and six to ten Scholastic All-Americans.  Ron and Don have coached over twenty Olympic Trials qualifiers (six alone in 2012) and well over 100 high school All-American swimmers.

While coaching the nationally competitive local summer-league, Ron and Don won a combined twelve OMPA (Orinda Moraga Pool Association) and ten Contra Costa County championships. As high school coaches in the North Coast Section (NCS), Ron and Don have won eighteen NCS Championships.  Orinda Aquatics swimmers hold eight of the eleven men’s records with times of 54.0 (100 Breast), 1:47.5 (200 IM), 20.2 (50 free), 44.2 (100 free), and 48.1 (100 Back), with 2012 national high school All-American rankings of 1st, 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, and with Ron and Don coaching the top two high school breaststrokers in the nation.

Ninety percent of Orinda Aquatic’s graduating seniors go on to swim in college, and all want to.  The graduating class has averaged a GPA near 3.75.  The overriding philosophy of OA is putting “character first” in swimming and in life.  Ron and Don have spoken on this topic for The American Swim Coaches Association, and were asked to run a Life Skills Seminar for ASCA.  The team consistently travels with sixty-plus teenagers and no chaperones.  

The coaching philosophy of the team is based on efficient training, motivation, discipline, integrity, teamwork, and close personal relationships.  With all of their swimming success, the swimmers remember Orinda Aquatics most for the positive impact it has had on their lives.  It is truly a "big picture" philosophy at Orinda Aquatics as life lessons are employed every day, in every aspect of the program. 


Coaching Staff

Ron Heidary

Co-Head Coach/Founder


In addition to being Co-Head Coach and Co-Founder of Orinda Aquatics, Ron is the Head Coach of Campolindo High School in Moraga, and was the Swim Team Director for Sleepy Hollow Swim & Tennis Club in Orinda. Campolindo High School has dominated North Coast Section (NCS) swimming over the past fifteen years winning an unprecedented thirteen NCS titles and producing over 75 High School All-Americans. Campolindo High School Swimming is regarded as one of the top high school programs in the State and Ron was voted California Coach of the Year in 2006. Ron was also named the Contra Costa Times Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year and Men’s Swimming Coach of the Year, and is an NCS Honor Coach.  At the summer recreational level, Ron has won an impressive ten championships at the Contra Costa County Swim Championships with Pinole and Sleepy Hollow.  Ron was also voted the Pacific Swimming Age-Group Coach of the Year for 1998.  He has been a presenter at several workshops and clinics for swim coaches around the country, including the American Swim Coaches Association.  Ron is a 1984 graduate of UC Berkeley with a BA in Economics and was a member of the Varsity Water Polo team.

Don Heidary

Co-Head Coach/Founder


In addition to being Co-Head Coach and Co-Founder of Orinda Aquatics, Don is the Head Coach of Miramonte High School’s Varsity Swim Team. Miramonte has been one of the most successful teams in North Coast over the past two decades, winning five NCS Championships and placing in the top three seventeen times. Don also coached the recreational swim team at Meadow Pool in Orinda for fourteen years, helping develop that program into the dominant Lamorinda team, winning seven OMPA Championships. Don has spoken at the ASCA (American Swim Coaches Association) World Clinic on "Selling the Vision - Building the Team" and “Commanding the Workout".  Don is a past North Coast Section Honor Coach and East Bay Coach of the Year. He also supports the swimming efforts of Swaziland, Africa, and has travelled there twice and presented the country’s only ASCA Coaches Clinic. Don is on the Pacific Swimming Board of Directors and is a 1984 graduate of UC Berkeley and was a member of Cal’s Varsity Water Polo team. In addition to coaching, Don worked as an Institutional Equity Trader for twenty years at Charles Schwab, Robertson Stephens, and Eastbourne Capital Management.

Marc Cavallero

Assistant Coach, Junior Group



Marc swam for and coached for Moraga Tennis and Swim Club. He was one of the original members of Orinda Aquatics. Marc swam for Campolindo High School under Ron and was a Junior National Qualifier for Orinda Aquatics.  He went on to swim for Greg Wilson at UC Santa Barbara where he was named Team Captain as a senior.  In addition to being the Head Coach of MTSC, Marc spent two seasons as the Varsity Swim Coach at Dos Pueblos high school in Santa Barbara while attending UCSB.  After graduating, Marc worked for two years at Aqua Stars Swim School in Lafayette, teaching learn to swim lessons while receiving his Master's Degree in Sport Management from the University of San Francisco.  His current involvement with OA includes coaching the Junior Group with Matt Ehrenberger. Marc also runs the Soda Site of the OA Polar Bear Fall Program, with responsibility for over 200 swimmers, and coaches the high school pre-season program. Outside of OA, Marc has coached Springbrook Swim team to a top three County finish and is the Head Coach at Acalanes High School where he has coached numerous All Americans. Marc is an outstanding age-group coach with a gift for working with age-group swimmers at all levels.

Matt Ehrenberger

Head Age-Group Coach


Matt Ehrenberger brings nearly thirty years of coaching experience to Orinda Aquatics, with ties to Ronnie and Donnie that trace back to their early years at Pinole. Matt is Head Age-Group Coach with responsibility for the development of the Junior (pre-high school) Group, and he is the Director of the Orinda Aquatics Polar Bear Fall Program, High School Pre-Season Program and Spring Clinics.ý Additionally, Matt has been the Head Coach/Swim Team Director at Sleepy Hollow Swim and Tennis Club in Orinda for twenty years.ý Sleepy Hollow has won multiple County and OMPA Championships and is consistently one of the most successful and efficient rec teams in the county. Matt began his coaching career with the Pinole Seals recreational swim team and was an integral part of their seven Contra Costa County Championships. Matt has coached numerous Pacific and National Top Ten swimmers as well as a USA Swimming All-Time Top 100 Swimmer and Pacific Swimming Record holder.ý Matt is an ASCA Level 3 Coach andýa 1990 graduate of Sacramento State University with a degree in Physical Education.ý Matt is also the Zone representative for the Pacific Swimming Age-Group Committee.

Kevin H Lai

Senior Assistant Coach


Kevin Lai returns to Orinda Aquatics after five years coaching abroad in Asia and one year in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Kevin was a former nationally ranked swimmer and coach for Orinda Aquatics and is very excited to be back home.  Kevin’s local career included Sleepy Hollow, MCC, MVP, Campolindo and Miramonte High School.  Kevin was very impactful in all of these programs.

In Asia, Kevin was the Head Age-Group Coach for the Hong Kong Island Stingrays, a highly competitive team of over 500 swimmers. Over the span of two years the age-group program had a consistent flow of swimmers competing in the top divisions of Hong Kong Swimming and at Hong Kong Nationals.

Kevin then traveled to Phuket, Thailand to accept a job as the Head Coach of the Thanyapura Sports and Leisure Club Silverfinz. Thanyapura was a brand new state-of-the art sports club with designs on starting a competitive year round swimming program. In two years, Kevin built the club from less than twenty casual members to a team with over eighty serious student-athletes from all around the world. His swimmers qualified and competed in high level competitions such as Singapore Nationals, Malaysian Nationals, Northern Thailand Championship and Thailand National Championships. In his tenure, Kevin also had swimmers qualify for exclusive sports scholarships to some of the top Schools in UK and Australia.

In 2012, Kevin and his wife, Sophie decided to move back to the United States and accepted a job as the Head Age-Group Coach for the Ridgefield Aquatic Club (RAC). Over the span of a year Kevin built the age-group program into the best in Connecticut with four swimmers from the program qualifying for “Super-Sectionals”, multiple individual and relay state records, over twenty National Top Ten times and also coached a National Record breaking swim in the 11-12 boys division.

As an athlete, Kevin held numerous national top ten rankings and was one of the original swimmers on Orinda Aquatics.  Kevin is very excited to be back at his “home” club and hopes to help the team in any capacity needed.


Sophie Lai



Sophie Lai is the newest addition to the Orinda Aquatics staff and brings a wealth of international swimming experience and knowledge to the club. Originally from Sweden, Sophie was the Swedish Junior National Champion in the 100 and 200 breaststroke. She was also a member of the Junior National Team which traveled all throughout Europe for training camps and competitions.  After her swimming career, Sophie became the age-group Coach for Neptune Swim Team in Stockholm, Sweden.  She developed swimmers who competed in Swedish Regional Championships and Swedish National Age-Group Championships.  Sophie then moved to Thailand and accepted the position of Head Age-Group Coach for the Thanyapura Sports and Leisure Club Silverfinz. She grew the age-group program to over fifty swimmers who competed throughout Asia.  Sophie then moved with Kevin to Ridgefield Aquatic Club and was hired as an age-group coach for the developmental program at RAC. In her short time at RAC, she was a very positive influence on the swimmers and provided great technical background to the age-group program.  Sophie is very excited to be a part of the OA family and she is looking forward to her new life in Sunny California.