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

14U Boys Water Polo/CEO


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, 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. 

Matt Flanders

Goalie Coach/Owner


Coach Flanders is the Head Coach of Santa Monica High School.

Michael Bechtholdt

Head Coach Swimming


Coach Mike is an ASCA Level 4 coach that has been at Westside for one year.

While at Westside, Mike has helped swimmers reach thier goals of competing in college.  Westide swimmers have reached the Sectional level under his guiance and made Championship Finals at the SCS Club Championships, Junior Olympics, June Age Group Championships, and Winter Age Group Championships.

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-Santa Monica


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


Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Coach Alex's passion for swimming began at age 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 really found coaching and helping others personally rewarding.
After high school graduation, Alex moved to Los Angeles in search of a milder climate, attending Loyola Marymount University. She competed all four years at LMU under Bonnie Adair and Clay Evans, and was captain her last two years. During college, she worked for a novice swim lesson program, Aqua Pro Aquatics, 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 (06-09). In addition, Alex coaches master’s swimming at UCLA and Southern California Aquatics. In her free time, she enjoys swimming masters, pilates and playing with her puppies.

Iman Khadembashi

Head Age Group Coach- Santa Monica


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.

Robert Bowie

Samohi site manager/12U Water Polo


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. Rob went on to play for Miami University at the collegiate club level, serving two terms as the 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.

Lani Fu

Director of Swim Lessons


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.

Kylie Garcia

Coach - Swimming


Coach Kylie is a Southern California native. She was a 2008 Olympic Trials qualifier, and was ranked amongst the top five in the nation for the 100 fly short course. She was also a Grand Prix finalist, Sectionals finalist, and competed at Junior and Senior Nationals. She swam competitively for Monrovia Aquatics, IHAC and RMDA.

Kylie attended UCLA on a swimming scholarship but was forced to retire due to a shoulder injury her freshman year. She graduated for UCLA this past spring (2014) with a major in History, and is currently an Assistant Teacher at the UCLA Lab School before heading west every afternoon to wrangle the Bronze and Silver groups at Westside Aquatics.

In a short period of time, Kylie has quickly become a valuable asset at Westside because of her effectiveness at communicating the sport to young swimmers.

Luke Pechmann

Age Group Coach


Luke Pechmann is a 2012 graduate of the University of Arizona with specializations in Biochemistry, Nutrition, and Swimming.  Luke's coaching experience includes working as an assistant coach at Fargo South High School and working as a personal trainer.  Luke has attained valuable swimming experiences under the tutelage of Frank Busch and Rick Demont which he will without a doubt share with his colleagues and swimmers at Westside.  As a competitive swimmer, Luke has received many accolades.  He was the Minnesota High School Champion in the 50 Free in 2008.  Luke swam one of the fastest 50m LC times in US history.  His rank was 48th.  In 2010 he also attained a top 100 FINA world ranking in both the 50m and 100m Freestyle.

Luke works with swimmers individually using Westside's video software, coaches Bronze groups, and works with our new Masters Program.

Dean Heck

Founder/Coach - Water Polo


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


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


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


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.  

Peter Fishler

Swim Coach


With no prior competitive experience, Peter began swimming for Palisades Charter High School in 2003. By his senior year in 2006, 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.

Peter coached the JV Women’s squad at Palisades High as a senior in high school, where he helped lead them to a Marine League championship and 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. He has been a full-time Assistant Coach for Palisades Charter High School since 2011.

Alec Steine

16/18U Water Polo


Alex was born and brought up in Ukraine, Lvov.

At the age of 8 he joined a local Aquatic Club. One year later Alex was transferred to the Sports Academy specializing in preparing athletes for the National Olympic water polo team.

By 1988 he had joined junior National Team, where he played throughout his high school years. As a member of the Junior National Water polo team Alex participated as a starting hole set in several world and European championships as well as other international competitions.                                                                                     Since 1993 Alex has been living in Los Angeles. In 199 Alex enrolled in Santa Monica College was he continued playing water polo. During 1993-1996 Alex has worked as a lifeguard and a swim coach at Santa Monica YMCA.  In 2000 Alex earned a BA in psychology and in 2003 - an MBA in business administration.        

The game of water polo has been Alex’s passion since early childhood. His substantial experience helps him in coaching young generation of water polo players. He is enjoying working with kids while passing on his skills and love for this sport.

James Mumma

Varsity Coach/Lessons Instructor


Born and raised in LA, James joined TSM and swam competitively for 8 years before joining there lessons program where he worked for 1 year. He then began coaching and teaching lessons at Westside Aquatics in 2013. James is the head lessons instructor for Westside. James currently attends Cal State Northridge pursing a degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Applied Fitness. He is also a member of the Army ROTC program based out of UCLA.

Alex Stuart

Swim coach - Santa Monica


Former competitive swimmer, and Coach of the Santa Monica YMCA Swim team.  Trained with Aqua

Gems Swimming (1998-2009). In (2009-2011) Trained with the Badger Aquatic Club’s national Team.  

Attended Pine Crest Elite Training Camp during the summers (2005, 2006, 2007).  Attended Greenwood 

Memorial Swim Clubs National Training Trip during the summers of (2008, 2009, 2010).  US sectional 

Qualified, and Finalist (Top 3 Finish).  NCSA Junior National Qualified, and Finalist (top 16 Finish).  USA 

JUNIORS Qualified, USA Winter Nationals Qualified, and US OPEN Qualified in the 100 and 200 

Meter/Yard Backstrokes, and bonus qualified in the 100 Yard Butterfly.  Have attended numerous stroke 

technique clinics (Go Swim, Harvard, Pine Crest).