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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.

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.

Iman Khadembashi

Head Age Group Coach

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Born and raised in Tehran, Iran, Iman moved to the US in 2003 at the age of 11. At the age of 16, Iman began giving swim lessons at the Santa Monica YMCA, and soon after he started coaching. Because he hadn't been a competitive swimmer, he completed numerous courses and clinics to become a better coach. Being a very competitive person, he always wanted to be the best and help others to become better as well. He became the Aquatics Coordinator, Swim Lessons Supervisor and Swim Coach at the Santa Monica YMCA, where he helped increase the lessons program from 60 swimmers to over 220 swimmers in one year. He also assisted with growing our swim team from about 35 swimmers to 120 competitive swimmer and increased our JO qualifiers from a handful to over 20 swimmers.

Currently, Iman is ASCA Level 2 certified, and he has been coaching for nearly six years. He has been fortunate enough to coach various levels of swimmers including novice, JO qualifiers, national qualifiers, college swimmers and masters swimmers. Coaching is his true passion, and he believes there is not such thing as "talent." With dedication, discipline, practice and hard work, anyone can achieve anything, and he does his best to help his swimmers fall in love with the sport, motivating them to do their best not only in swimming, but in every aspect of their life.

Mitchell J Kim

Splashball/Swim Lessons

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Kirk Lazaruk

Coach - Water Polo

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Coach Kirk has been playing water polo since age 10. He started as a goalie and continued playing at Santa Monica High School. During his college years at Santa Monica College and UCSB, Kirk was both a starter in the goal and field, earning him an All-League Honors. Kirk was one of the founding participants of Masters Water Polo and a multiple All-American. He continues to compete for the Olympic Club of San Francisco in both local and national tournaments. Coach Kirk is a two time Maccabiah Olympian (Silver Medals). He considers himself fortunate to have been able to continue as a post-collegiate international and national water polo player since 1983.  

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. 

Courtney Mcelrath

Water Polo-HS Girls Head Coach

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Coach Courtney started swimming before she could walk. She competed in her first swim meet at age three and swam for ten years on a club swim team before taking a break and moving onto water polo at age 13. During her freshman year at Palm Desert High School, she was the starting line-up of the Varisty Girl's swim team. She attended and played water polo for the number one State team at Riverside City Collge until she sustained too many injuries to continue. 

Courtney's coaching career started when she was 16, where she started coaching alongside her Dad. She coached with her Dad for two years for a local water polo and swim team club that he helped create, as well as a local high school team. These club teams focused on 9-12 and 14-18 age groups. From there she became the 10-14 age group coach for the Piranha Swim Team in Palm Springs. After moving to San Francisco, Courtney quickly moved up from assistant coach to head coach for the San Francisco Seals Swim Team.

Coach Courtney is very excited to be part of the Westside Aquatics family and hopes to create a fun and safe environment for all her students.

Dzenan Nalbant

Bronze/Silver Coach in Santa Monica

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Born in Bosnia, Coach Latte (his real name is Dzenan) moved to Los Angeles at a young age where he grew up and attended Culver City High School. Coach Latte joined Edge swim club in 2004 which was later absorbed by TSM, and has been swimming since. With 3 years of coaching at the Culver YMCA and another 3 for TSM he has had a lot of experience around the pool deck. 
 

James Mumma

Varsity Coach/Lessons Instructor

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Born and raised in LA, James joined TSM and swam competitively for 8 years before joining their lessons program where he worked for a year. He then began coaching and teaching lessons at Westside Aquatics in 2013. James is the head lessons instructor for Westside, and he is currently attending Cal State Northridge, where he is pursuing a degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Applied Fitness. He is also a member of the Army ROTC program, which is based out of UCLA.

Jarrod Przebieda

16u Water Polo SAMO

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Coach Jarrod Przebieda is an LA native that began his water polo career at John Burroughs High School in Burbank where he played four seasons of Varsity water polo, earned multiple team awards including Defensive Player of the Year 2005-06, team MVP in 2006-07, received 1st team All-League honors from 2005-07, was team captain in 2007 and is currently a school record holder in 4 swim events. After high school, he played one year at Rose Bowl Aquatics Club, earning a spot on the first ever 18u boys team to qualify for Junior Olympics.  

Coach Jarrod began his collegiate career playing for two years at L.A. Valley College, where he earned 1st Team All League selection both years, served as team captain in 2009, won team MVP in 2009, and earned Second Team All-American recognition in 2009. After his time at LAVC, Jarrod transferred to Concordia University Irvine, where he played two seasons of water polo for the (then) top 10 nationally ranked Eagles, earning honors as an Academic All-American both years.

After his collegiate career, Coach Jarrod began coaching for the City of Burbank, and then at Burbank High School where he took over as Head Coach of the water polo and swim programs. He now serves as Assistant Coach at Santa Monica High School, and as Head Coach for Westside Aquatics 16u boys water polo team.

 

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 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.

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.

Dean Heck

Founder/Coach - Water Polo

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Coach Dean was a competitive swimmer from age 7 to 18. He started playing water polo in 7th grade in Newport Beach, and he played for the Corona Del Mar High School team from 1973 to 1977, during which time they won the 1974 CIF championship, AAAA division (highest level at that time). While attending UCLA, he was a three-year varsity starter for UCLA's water polo team. From 1985 through 2003, he remained an active water polo player on various masters teams. Dean's been married for 22 years and lives in Brentwood.

Valerie Williams

Synchronized Swimming

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Coach Valerie has over ten years of coaching experience in Southern California, including lead coach for the 12 and under team with Team Meraquas of Irvine. Her athletes have placed routines in Finals at US Nationals, and she qualified a swimmer to the 2011's National Team. She was also the 2012 Assistant Coach for the 11-12 National Team and a certified regional judge.

Gavyn Wild

14u Boys Water Polo

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Coach Gavyn grew up in Riverside, CA where he started playing water polo at age 8 with Team Riverside Water Polo. He was playing goalie by age 11. He continued playing water polo and at Riverside Poly High School helped his team (undefeated in league games) become 2005 CIF Champs. Gavyn continued on the U.S. National Team pipeline until college, where he won gold medals at the youth Pan-American games in Dominican Republic and the junior Pan-American games in Brazil. He later trained and competed in Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia and Hungary. He went on to play college water polo at Loyola Marymount University, where his team was two-time conference champions and two-time runner up to the NCAA championship. Gavyn majored in History and Political Science at Loyola Marymount, graduating in 2013.

In addition to coaching at Westside Aquatics, Gavyn is also the manager at the wholesale clothing manufacturer Mignone Clothing in downtown Los Angeles. He is an avid sports fan and closely follows the Lakers, Dodgers, Raiders, and Kings. He also loves playing basketball, golf, fantasy football, and Nintendo 64.