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Coaches & Directors

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 (see below).

All coaches are members of USA Swimming or USA Water Polo. This ensures that they have passed a series of educational tests. Each coach has also gone through multiple background checks as a measure of safety for our atheletes.

Coaches are also members of the American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA), through which they gain additional certification and continuing education.

Coaching Staff

Adam Blakis

Director of Water Polo/ Owner

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Adam has been coaching swimmers and water polo players in California for over twenty-five years, 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. Coach Adam was named the 2012 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. 

Michael Bechtholdt

Head Coach Swimming

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Coach Mike is an ASCA Level 4 coach and a new addition to the Westside Aquatics family.

Before joining Westside Aquatics Coach Mike had been at Canyons Aquatic Club in Santa Clarita since 2001, working with the senior level swimmers. During that time, he also had a 5 year stint as the Head Coach of Valencia High School which culminated in the team's 25th (boys) and and 31st (girls) places nationally. Prior to joining Canyons Mike coached at Riverton Aquatic Team and was the Head Coach at Riverton High School in Wyoming where he was selected as the North 4A Coach Of The Year. Before coaching, Mike was also a collegiate swimmer at the University of Wyoming 1988-1991, and 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 qualifing 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. Mike has 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.

Mohammad Khadembashi

Head Coach-Crossroads

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Salaam (Farsi for Hello!)

Originally from Tehran, Iran, Coach Mo moved to Los Angeles almost eleven years ago, on July 4th! He learned to swim on the shores of the Caspian Sea and was an instant fan of the sport. As swimming was not a huge sport in Iran, Mohammad did not swim competitively until he began at the Santa Monica YMCA in 2005.

He joined Westside Aquatics after his sixth year of coaching swimmers from Novice level to JO qualifiers, College swimmers, and Masters swimmers within his program at the Santa Monica YMCA. He has also had the pleasure of woking with USA and YMCA National qualifiers.

Mohammad is currently an ASCA Level 2 coach, and would love to take some of his swimmers to the Olympics one day. His joy for swimming is unparalled in anything else and he hopes to transfer this joy to his swimmers at every single practice. Mohammad believes that every athlete can reach their potential through hard work and goal setting, and pushes and challenges his swimmers to do so in the pool as well as in their personal lives.

Alex Tungland

Head Age Group Coach - Swimming

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

After high school graduation, I moved to Los Angeles in search of a milder climate, attending Loyola Marymount University. I competed all four years at LMU under Bonnie Adair and Clay Evans, and was captain my last two years. During college, I worked for a novice swim lesson program, Aqua Pro Aquatics, run by my coaches Bonnie and Clay. After graduating with a degree in English, I 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, I coached numerous nationally ranked 12 and under swimmers (including a number one ranking). I also represented Southern California Swimming as the 11-12 girl’s coach at the North American Challenge Cup (NACC) meet for 3 years (06-09). In addition, I coached master’s swimming at UCLA and Southern California Aquatics during my time in Los Angeles. In my free time, I enjoy swimming masters, yoga and cooking.

Lani Fu

Coach - Swimming

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Born and raised in Los Angeles, Lani Fu joined Westside Aquatics as a teenager to compliment her tennis skills. She quickly fell in love with the sport of swimming and her caring, fun-loving nature emerged, which led her to begin teaching swim lessons with Westside Aquatics in 2009. Lani's ability to get along well with children combined with her high level of expectations for her swimmers has made her transition into both a swim team coach and a director of swim lessons for Westside Aquatics an easy one. She is currently a Political Science major at UCLA.

Eric Butler

Coach - Swimming

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Coach Eric hails from La Crescenta, CA. He attended Crescenta Valley High School, where he lettered in three sports (swimming, water polo and baseball) and was a member of the 1993 CIF Division II Swimming championship team.Eric has been coaching swimmers for over twelve years at various levels, including Masters, High School, Middle School and Age Group. He has extensive coaching experience at the club level with the Palisades/Malibu YMCA, the Santa Monica YMCA, and the Crescenta-Canada YMCA. His Pacific Palisades roots run deep, as he coached at Pali High in 2004 and is currently an assistant coach at St. Matthew's Parish School. He also serves the community as a lifeguard at the Maggie Gilbert Aquatic Center. This is Eric's second stint as a member of the Westside Aquatics coaching staff.

Sofya Perelshteyn

Coach - Swimming

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Coach Sofya was born in Moscow, Russia and moved to Los Angeles as a toddler. She got hooked on swimming from her first swimming lesson at the age four. She swam for her local team in West Hollywood through her freshman year of high school, after which she swam for the Varsity Girls team at Palisades Charter High School, helping the girls place top 3 at CIF all four years. She swam for Westside Aquatics under Coach Adam during this time as well. At the University of California Berkeley, Sofya continued her love of the sport by swimming with Cal Masters Swim Team. She has been swimming instructor at Berkeley and at Westside Aquatics for many years, and is excited to make the transition to coaching.

Iman Khadembashi

Coach- Swimming

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Born and raised in Tehran, Iran, I moved to the US in 2003 at the age of 11. Prior to moving here I was playing soccer at school and club level and was named the best goalkeeper in the city. At that time my only involvement with swimming was knowing basic swimming skills and swimming in the Caspian Sea. After moving to the States my main focus was to learn the language and do well in school. I was at the top of my class starting in the first grade until graduating Santa Monica High School. While attending SAMOHI I made the Volleyball team but had to stop due to injury.

At the age of 16 I started teaching swim lessons at the Santa Monica YMCA and soon after started coaching. Not having been a competitive swimmer, I took various courses and clinics to be the best in this field. Being a very competitive person, I’ve always wanted to be the best and make those around me better. That resulted in me becoming the Aquatics Coordinator, Swim Lessons Supervisor, and Swim Coach at the SM YMCA. I helped grow the lessons program from 60 swimmers to over 220 swimmers in one year. That also helped me grow our swim team from about 35 swimmers to 120 competitive swimmers. I also increased our JO qualifiers from a handful to over 20 swimmers.

I am currently ASCA Level 2 certified and have been coaching for nearly 6 years. I have been fortunate to have coached different level swimmers including novice, Age Group and Junior Olympics qualifiers, National qualifier, College swimmers, and Masters. Coaching is my passion and I believe there is no such thing as “talent”. With dedication, discipline, practice, and hard work anyone can achieve anything, and I will do my best to have my swimmers fall in love with the sport and be motivated to do their best, not only in swimming but in every aspect of their life.

 

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

Kylie Garcia

Coach - Swimming

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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 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.

Bart Gawboy

Coach - Water Polo

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Bart swam and played water polo from a young age in Minnesota. 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 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 BE 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 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. 

 

Dave Andriole

Coach - Water Polo

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I started out as a competitive swimmer at age six. My older brother introduced me to water polo when I was 11, but everything I know about the fundamentals of water polo I learned from George Gross - a Yale alumn from the mid 70's who was a three-time Canadian Olympic team member and was twice the Head Coach of the Canadian Men’s National Team. George used to host our college team in Toronto for our pre-season training camp, and this is what really transformed me into a water polo player.

After college, I played for a club team in Chicago that used to compete at the U.S. Winter Nationals - this is so long ago, it was before U.S. Masters water polo even existed.  Over the years, I played for various club teams here in the U.S. and abroad. In the mid 90's I was a founding member, along with Coach Adam Blakis, of a masters club here in Los Angeles that still exists called KAOS.  

Kirk Lazaruk

Coach - Water Polo

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Coach Kirk has been playing water polo since age 10. He started out as a goalie and continued playing while 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.