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Coaches & Directors

Our Team

Westside Aquatics employs professional coaches with a passion for the sport of swimming and water polo. Our coaching staff is here to support your needs. If you have any questions regarding workouts, meets, events, goal setting or other topics related to aquatic sports, please contact your coach directly. All coaches are members of USA Swimming or USA Water Polo as well as American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA), and everyone has completed multiple background checks as an extra measure of safety for our athletes.

Coaching Staff

Michael Bechtholdt

Head Coach Swimming

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Coach Mike is an ASCA Level 4 coach who has been with Westside Aquatics since 2014. While at Westside, Mike has helped swimmers reach thier goals of competing in college, and Westside swimmers have reached the National, Junior National, and Sectional level under his guidance.  Mike's swimmers have made Championship Finals at the Junior National, Futures, SCS Club Championships, Junior Olympics, June Age Group Championships, and Winter Age Group Championships.

Before joining Westside Aquatics, Coach Mike coached at Canyons Aquatic Club in Santa Clarita for over ten years, working with the senior level swimmers. During that time, he also had a 5-year stint as the Head Coach at Valencia High School, which culminated in the team's 25th (boys) and and 31st (girls) places nationally. Prior to joining Canyons, Mike was the head coach at Riverton High School, where he coached the Riverton Aquatic Team and was selected as the North 4A Coach of the Year. Before coaching, Mike was a collegiate swimmer at the University of Wyoming, and he swam in high school at Cheyenne East.

Throughout his career, Mike has held an unparalleled record in advancing swimmers to their next level of competition. Swimmers under Mike's guidance have achieved Junior National, National and Olympic Trial qualifying time standards. Mike has also been part of the North American Challenge Cup coaching staff for the 2008 and 2007 seasons as well as Pacific Coast All Star Coaching Staff and Southern California Zone Coaching Staff. He has also been invited to travel as a "host" coach to the Olympic training center with his athletes for both the Diversity Select Camp and the Junior National Select Camp.

Adam Blakis

14U Boys Water Polo/CEO

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Adam has been coaching swimmers and water polo players in California for over twenty-five years, and he has taught athletes at a variety of places including UC Riverside, St. Monica’s High, Crespi High, Chabot Community College, Santa Monica College and the Palisades-Malibu YMCA. He has coached numerous Senior, Junior and YMCA National swimming qualifiers, and Coach Adam was named the 2012,13,14 LA City Water Polo Coach of the Year after leading Palisades High School to the LA City CIF tiltle. He swam and played water polo at Santa Monica High and then later at UC Riverside, where he graduated with a BA in History. 

Robert Bowie

Samohi site manager/12U Water Polo

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Rob was born and raised in Oxford, Ohio, where he began his life in aquatics at age 11 after joining a local swim team. By the time he reached high school, the water polo bug bit him and he never looked back. As a high school athlete Rob received First Team All-State honors in his senior year. He went on to play for Miami University at the collegiate club level, serving two terms as Club President while earning All-Midwest Team recognition in his freshman and senior years.

Before moving to California in 1999, Rob coached age group swimming and high school water polo for four years, taking his teams to the state playoffs in each season at the helm. After landing on the west coast, he was hired as Beverly Hill High School’s Head Boys water polo coach in 2003. A year later he was in charge of the entire BHHS Aquatics Program, heading both boys and girls water polo teams, as well as the swim team. After spending 11 years at Beverly, Rob was offered a coaching position at Brentwood school where he currently serves as the Assistant Varsity/Head JV water polo coach and Head Swim Coach.

Tatum Bronte

Age Group Coach

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Alex Elizando

Synchronized Swimming

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Coach Alex had an unconventional introduction into synchronized swimming. She started off teaching herself different skills out of a figure book a friend had given her. She quickly fell in love with the sport and became determined to master it as best she could. After attending several clinics and classes, Alex has become a strong swimmer, occasionally performing, and hopes to compete in Masters this year. She has coached the synchronized swimming program at the Santa Monica Swim Center for 3 years, and coached their 2013 trio to 3rd place at the LA84 Competition. She is a member of USA Synchro and a CCP1 certified coach. In addition, she is certified in life guarding, First Aid, CPR/AED, and WSI. Coach Alex works with the Pre-team and Novice synchro swimmers. 

Peter Fishler

Swim Coach

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With no prior competitive experience, Peter began swimming for Palisades Charter High School in 2003. By his senior year, he had helped Pali achieve three City Championships, scoring each year at the City Championship in the top 10. He was recognized as All-Los Angeles City Team (1st and 2nd place per event) on 6 separate occasions. While attending Franklin & Marshall College, he was selected to the All-Centennial Conference team on 15 occasions, with individual titles in the 100 and 200 freestyles in 2008 and 2009. During his time there, he broke 3 school records, 2 Centennial Conference records and attained 2 NCAA "B" cuts.

As a Palisades High School senior, Peter coached the Pali JV Women’s squad, where he helped lead the team to the Marine League championship with an undefeated season in 2006. While attending Franklin & Marshall, he helped coach the Trident Swim Club’s senior squad, leading 2 men to the 2009 PIAA state finals.

Peter has been the full-time Assistant Coach for Palisades Charter High School Swim Team since 2011. The Women's team have claimed the last 4 City Championships, won 20 events and turned in 46 CIF top 3 performances during his tenure. The Men's team have taken the last 3 City Championships, ending their 7 season title drought. They have won 22 events, been awarded 38 medals and broken 4 CIF City Section records.

Peter represented Westside Aquatics as a swimmer from 2004 to 2006, and began coaching for them in 2011. His swimmers have competed at the highest levels of Southern California Swimming, turning in meet record setting performances at the SCS Club Championship "Super JO" meet, as well as countless SCS Junior Olympic qualifying swims.

Matt Flanders

Director of Water Polo

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Coach Matt attended Santa Monica High and graduated from UCSB and UCLA. He played water polo at UCSB from 1989-1994, earning all MPSF honors, the McCormick Leadership Award ('93 & '94), and the MPSF Student Athlete of the Year award.

Coach Matt Flanders has been the head coach of Santa Monica High School's water polo and swim programs since 1996. During that time, Santa Monica teams have won 20+ league championships and reached the conference playoffs 20+ times combined, including one conference finals appearance. During this time, Santa Monica High has also had more than 75 athletes named to all-league, all-area, or all-conference teams. 

Coach Matt is currently in charge of goalie development for Westside, and he also assists with the under-12 teams.

Bart Gawboy

Coach - Water Polo

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Coach Bart swam and played water polo from a young age in Minnesota, and he represented the midwest for a 14U National Junior Olympics showing. Bart attended Dartmouth College, where he swam and founded the water polo club. He stayed on to coach for a year after graduating in 1978. While coaching the Dartmouth Water Polo players, he also coached the Hanover age group swimmers, finished an extra B.E. degree and earned an Ivy Player honor in spring '79 club water polo. He swam Masters in the early '80s while also training as a dancer, and he continues to play Masters water polo, having played with coaches Dean and Kirk on the SM n' Bay team to win the first Masters championships in 1988. 

 

Carl L Jones

Head Site Coach - Santa Monica

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Carl Jones is from Walla Walla, Washington. He began swimming for his local YMCA club team at the age of five. During his high school swimming career, Carl qualified for multiple senior national events including the 2008 Olympic Trials. After the success of his high school swimming career including a 7th place at Senior Nationals (2006), Carl received an athletic scholarship to compete for the University of Tennessee’s Men’s Swimming team.  During his five years of competition at UT, Carl recorded the third fastest time for the 1650 freestyle in school history, as well as qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Trials in the 200, 400 and 1500 meter freestyle events. In multiple Open Water National competitions, Carl never placed outside of 16th place. Carl treasures his experiences swimming under the great Todd Stafek, Joe Hendee and Lars Jorgensen, and has been heavily influenced by their work ethic and attitude towards athletes and the sport of swimming. Carl’s own work ethic and aspiration to be the greatest coach he can be has been heavily influenced by these 3 coaches.

During his tenure as a UT swimmer, Carl began his coaching career as the head coach for Robindale Woods, a summer league team in Knoxville. Before making his way on to the West Side Aquatics coaching staff, Carl has been an assistant coach in Lexington KY, Macon GA, and Team Santa Monica. During this time he coached athletes ranging from some of the country’s most elite swimmers to complete beginners. Over the course of his swimming life, Carl has conjured up 18 years of competitive swimming experience as well as 5 years of coaching practice.

Carl graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies. Carl has been coaching full time for four years, and began his coaching position with West Side Aquatics during the winter of 2015. He enjoys teaching kids how to become aspiring, goal driven individuals, and competitive athletes in the best sport in the world - SWIMMING.

Miriam Margolis

Synchronized Swimming

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Coach Miriam has 8 years of competitive synchronized swimming experience, representing teams from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California. Upon moving to Los Angeles in 2014, Miriam began coaching and performing. She is a USA Synchro CCP 1 coach, and also instructs adult fitness classes. She plans on competing in a Masters competition in 2016. 

Tim Murphy

Senior Assistant Coach

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Coach Tim is an ASCA Level 3 certified coach in his tenth year in SoCal Swimming's Pacific Committee.  This is his second stint as a member of the Westside Aquatics coaching staff.

Coach Tim's philosophy is to keep things fast and fun, with a healthy dose of inspiration.  He encourages each athlete to be committed to the fulfillment of their potential.  His extensive and diverse coaching history has led him work with every level of athlete, from novice to Olympian.  Beginning way back in his high school days, in the Cincinnati Country Club League, his coaching career includes some time as an undergraduate assistant at Kenyon College, one season at the CIF level with Harvard-Westlake School, six seasons with Team Santa Monica and three seasons with Swim Torrance.  Counting the 2015-16 season, he has now been on deck for parts of four different seasons with Westside Aquatics.  Coach Tim has produced multiple Junior National qualifiers, Sectional qualifiers and Junior Olympic champions and, from 2008-2010, he was the primary coach of a 2016 U.S. Olympian.  Throughout his career, he has been fortunate enough to work with some of the sport's best athletes, which include an American record holder, NCAA champions, U.S. and Australian Olympic Trials qualifiers, Open Water medalists, World Junior Team members and numerous Junior and Senior National qualifiers.

As an athlete in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, Tim was a U.S. Open qualifier, Junior National qualifier, NAG Top-16 qualifier and YMCA National Champion, while representing the Cincinnati Marlins and the M.E. Lyons YMCA, respectively.  However, it was his experience as a State Champion and All-American at Cincinnati St. Xavier High School that cemented his passion for the sport.
*Swimming World Magazine recently ranked the St. Xavier High School men's swimming team as the 3rd best high school program in history.

After graduating from St. X in 1998, he competed for NCAA Division III powerhouse Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where he was awarded All-Conference honors.  In 2002, he achieved a B.A. in History from Kenyon.


Coach Tim has given back to the sport as the Pacific Committee's representative to the Southern California Swimming Board of Review since 2011.

Andrew Pudwill

18u Boys/High School Director/Masters

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Coach Andrew started swimming and playing water polo in seventh grade and continued with water polo throughout high school in Texas, where he came in first All State and All American and his team won State Championship. Andrew was selected to the USA Water Polo Southwest Zone team for two consecutive years, making the top 50 cut of players his second year. He went on to play water polo at Golden West College. His professional experience includes coaching alongside coaches on the National Team, Collegiate and other high level coaches across the country. Coach Andrew has helped over 15 athletes move on to Division 1 college programs and over 30 athletes to continue onto college water polo. He has been coaching water polo for over 12 years.

Spencer Richards

Bronze/Silver/10/12u Wp Coach

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Coach Spencer was born and raised in Walnut Creek, California where he began swimming and playing water polo at a young age. He has been around aquatics his whole life, swimming age group and playing club water polo every summer from ages 7-18. His swimming career started at Indian Valley Swim Team where he continued onto the high school swim team at Las Lomas High and USA Swimming with the Walnut Creek Aquabears followed by Cuesta Community College. He also played club water polo for East Bay Water Polo and the 680 Drivers. As a senior at Las Lomas High, he was the water polo team captain and continued to play for two more seasons at Cuesta Community College. He recently graduated from Cal State Northridge with a Screenwriting degree and currently resides in the lovely San Fernando Valley.

Tara Shima

Santa Monica Assistant Swimming Coach

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I swam competitively from the age of 4, starting at a small club team in Laguna Niguel, moving on to a more rigorous team in El Toro at 6 years old, Saddleback Aquatics, and finally staying with the Nadadores in Mission Viejo at 9 years old.  I swam with some fantastic coaches with whom I spent the majority of my childhood, doubling every weekday totaling 5 hours per day and swimming 2.5 hours on Saturday whenever we didn’t have meets.  I swam varsity for Dana Hills High School and was an ecstatic member of the CIF team all four years as a flyer and mid-distance freestyler.  I started coaching swimming in my junior year of high school in Santa Margarita and Coto de Caza when one of my coaches asked if I would be willing to give it a try.  It was an amazing experience and I instantly fell in love.  I continued to work as a swim coach, swim instructor and guard for State Beaches in San Clemente up until I left to attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.  I swam for the Mustangs where I enjoyed taking part in NCAA Division 1 competition as a 200 flyer and 200 backstroker (thanks to underwater dolphin), earned Academic Scholar Award throughout my time and my BA.  After graduation I had gone into teaching while earning my Masters from Cal Poly Pomona.  An old coach called me out of the blue and asked if I would assist him at Santa Monica College with the swim and water polo teams in 2002.  I started coaching and teaching at SMC, teaching at Pasadena City College, coaching at LA Valley College and finally was asked to head Crossroads High School Swim Team in 2007.  I still teach Kinesiology at SMC and head the varsity swim team at Crossroads.  After a long reprieve from swimming, I was asked to join a group who was swimming from Catalina to Palos Verdes in the summer of 2015.  It was an amazing experience which instilled a deep love for ocean swimming and one which has inspired me to train for the English Channel in 2017 (after my oldest child graduates high school).  I am looking forward to working with a group of committed year-round swimmers.  My passion is in proper stroke technique to avoid injury and increase distance per stroke, race-based training and a fun team experience.  I look forward to helping athletes meet their full potential!

Alex Tungland

Coach - Swimming

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Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Coach Alex's passion for swimming began at the age of nine, when she joined her local club team, Desert Aquatics, to stay cool during the summertime. She continued to swim year-round for Desert Aquatics through high school, where she was an All-American and State Champion team member. It was during high school that Alex began coaching the 8 and under group for her club team, and she really found coaching and helping others to be personally rewarding.

After high school graduation, Alex moved to Los Angeles in search of a milder climate. She attended Loyola Marymount University, and competed all four years at LMU under Bonnie Adair and Clay Evans. She was captain during her last two years, and during college, she also worked for a novice swim lesson program, Aqua Pro Aquatics, that was run by her coaches Bonnie and Clay. After graduating with a degree in English, she stayed in Los Angeles and began coaching for Team Santa Monica in 2005 (in addition to running the Aqua Pro program). As Head Age Group Coach for Team Santa Monica from 2006-2010, Alex coached numerous nationally ranked 12 and under swimmers (including a number one ranking) and from the USA Swimming All-Time Top 100 lists. She also represented Southern California Swimming as the 11-12 girl’s coach at the North American Challenge Cup (NACC) meet for 3 years (2006-2009). In addition, Alex coaches master’s swimming at UCLA and Southern California Aquatics. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, pilates and playing with her puppies.

Valerie Williams

Synchronized Swimming

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Coach Valerie has over twelve years of coaching experience. She previously coached 12&Under teams at Los Angeles Synchro and the Meraquas of Irvine. Her athletes have placed routines in Finals at US Nationals, and she qualified a swimmer to the 2011 U.S. National Team. She was the Assistant Coach for the 2012 12&Under U.S. National Team, and will be coaching the U.S. National team in 2016. She is a U.S. National Team consultant, CCP3 Certified coach, Grade Level Assessor, and a Regional judge. She is also the head coach of a local Masters team, and performs & choreographs for private shows and film/tv productions.