Head Coach / Jr & Sr Swami
Head Coach and Co-Founder
of Race Swami Matt Finnigan grew up in
the swimming hotbed of Northern California's Bay Area. Swimming
competitively for more than 16 years for clubs straddling the Bay
Area's peninsula, Matt's most notable tutelage in the sport came
under the direction of the late Kevin Perry,
whom he competed for for six years at the Los Altos Aquatic Club.
"Swimming for Kevin Perry, I learned more than just about
swimming," Finnigan recalls. "I learned about life. 'KP' had a way
of drawing every ounce of talent out of every one of his athletes,
all the while teaching them lessons about hard work, dedication,
effective communication, learning to work together... and striving
for excellence no matter who you were or what you were going to do
with your life... I think I learned more from KP than I ever
learned from any of my high school teachers. That's just who he
was. He wasn't just a swim coach... he was a life teacher."
Under the guidance of Perry, Matt was named an All-American
as a flyer and distance freestyler. He continued his swimming
career at Florida State University. As a coach, Finnigan has been
named UHSAA Coach of the Year four times, a Western Region Coach of
the Year once, and led Judge Memorial Catholic High School Girls'
teams to seven state titles over nine years (two 2nd place
finishes). Many of Matt's graduates continued their respective
swimming careers at college programs from coast to coast. He has
coached several All-Americans and graduated nearly 200 athletes
during his tenure at Judge Memorial. Matt is an ASCA Level III
coach, is Race Club (Florida) certified, and currently serves as
Utah Swimming's Diversity Coordinator as well as Executive Director
at Race Swami.
Rising Swami II and Jr Swami
Elliot grew up in the Washington DC area in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He swam with Curl-Burke Swim Club (now Nation’s Capital Swim Club) for a dozen years. Tom Dolan and a handful of other Olympians also swam with Elliot and Curl-Burke during that time. Elliot had the opportunity to race against Michael Phelps in the 200 fly once—Phelps won. A series of injuries kept Elliot from swimming in college. He graduated from BYU with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Accounting in 2003. After graduation, Elliot married his college sweetheart Andrea. They have two energetic boys, Brock and Scott, born in 2004 and 2006. While deployed with the Army, Elliot finished his Master’s Degree in Business Administration online through the University of Maryland’s sister school UMUC. His fun jobs are teaching Physical Education at Midvale Elementary School and coaching little SWAMIs. Elliot can be found on deck coaching the RS2 "Blasters" at the Northwest Rec Center, and the Junior Swami group. Elliot’s favorite events were the 400 IM, 200 fly and all of the long distance freestyle events.
Rising Swami I & II
Theresa Dominguez grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado and has always loved being around the water. Swimming for Colorado Springs Swim Team (CSST ), and later, the Colorado Rapids, Theresa soon found that she was a pretty darn fast breaststroker and soon began making state cuts year after year. She swam competitively for over 7 years and learned a lot about determination and perseverance. Theresa is a natural around young kids new to the water, immediately putting them at ease as they find comfort and trust in the pool. Currently, Theresa is studying to be Special Education Teacher at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. Theresa oversees our Neighborhood House groups, as well as teaming up with Coach Debbie to direct the Rising Swami 1 group at Northwest Rec Center. She also is Swami's Program Director with our partnership with the Neighborhood House.
Rising Swami II
Hillary Hermansen, fondly nicknamed "Hillarity" by the team, has been swimming ever since she can remember and loves to swim more than life itself. Hillary grew up swimming in the small town of Kamas, Utah, where she started coaching as an assistant for the local pre-competition swim team. She loved the kids and loved coaching. After three years of dedicated service to the team, she left Kamas to see the world. Hillary lived in Brazil for over a year, speaking fluent Portuguese, and returned to America a short time later. Now she studies English Teaching at the University of Utah. Hillary adores helping the SWAMIs open their minds to all the possibilities in life, and in becoming the very best swimmers they can be. She is always up for playing the occasional game of Ultimate Frisbee, Dodgeball, or Kickball with the SWAMIs and coaching staff. Hillary can be found on deck working with the RS2 Groups at both the Steiner West site, as well as the Northwest Rec Center. She also assists Coach Matt with the Junior Swami group every Friday afternoon. Hillary has become known for her creativity and keen ability to get SWAMIs to attain things they've never done before. For her, these Race Swami kids are the best ever!
Rising Swami I
Debbie Samaniego grew up in Pomona, California in a diverse community. In middle school, her family moved to Logan, Utah. During her freshman year at Logan High School, Debbie met Jerry Hodgkinson, the Logan swimming coach at the time, in a geography class he was teaching. Debbie witnessed first hand the closeness that swimmers shared every time they gathered in his classroom throughout the day. She was so intrigued by it that she found herself wanting to be part of that community-fueled friendship. So she decided to join the team! One problem: she barely knew how to stay afloat! But Coach Jerry took Debbie under his wing and taught her the fundamentals of sound, efficient swimming. Over the course of her high school swimming career, she worked her way up the ranks and made the most out of the opportunity Coach Jerry presented her. With much hard work, dedication, and lots of team support, she continued to improve her craft and became a state swimmer for Logan High. Now being around the water is her part of her life as she continues her education at Westminster College. According to Debbie, it was through swimming that she was able to become a lifeguard, teach swim lessons, culminating in becoming a USA Swimming coach at Race Swami. At Westminster College, Debbie is studying Political Science, Spanish, and Latin American Studies. Debbie mentors the Rising Swami 1 groups at both Steiner West and Northwest Rec.