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Coaches & Directors

We are here to support your needs. If your questions are related to workouts, meets, events, goal setting, and other swimming related needs, please contact one of the coaches. 

Coaching Staff

Matt Finnigan

Head Coach / Jr & Sr Swami

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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.

David Valdes

Head Age Group Coach / Rising Swami

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David Valdes, Swami Head Age Group Coach, comes to RACE SWAMI by way of Alaska, which is where he got his first opportunity to coach a year-round swim team (Aurora Swim Team) in 2010. David's competitive swimming career, however, began at the age of six in Mexico City, Mexico. By age ten he was representing Mexico at the Central American and Caribbean Championships and traveling between Mexico and Florida to further his swimming endeavors. David completed high school in the U.S. and was fortunate enough to swim for Harvard University under coach Mike Chasson who also coached Race Swami's Head Coach, Matt Finnigan when he was an age group swimmer. David has fond memories of the many teams he competed for and the friendships he made as a swimmer—and its what eventually fueled his interest in becoming a coach. David views swimming as the fountain of youth and now that he competes in triathlons, running races and cycling events, he still uses swimming as a way to build up endurance while allowing the body to recover from hard running sessions and mountain biking training. Most of David's coaching experience is with 12 & under swimmers and it is his hope to instill in our Rising Swamis a lifelong interest in being fit, staying active as well as possessing a passion for swimming. David is an ASCA Level II coach.

Chelsea Peterson

Age Group Coach / Rising Swami II

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Chelsea Peterson assists the Junior Swami and Rising Swami groups after spending a decorated career at the University of Utah. Chelsea studied Sports Psychology at the U and graduated in Spring 2012. Originally hailing from Omaha, Nebraska, Chelsea swam for Swim Omaha under the presence of renowned coach Docker Hartfield. She swam competitively for 13 years and has learned a ton about success stories in this sport. Though known to be tough and ornery when it comes to keeping the kids on task, Chelsea is known to reward her group handsomely when they collectively reach their goals in impressive fashion. When Chelsea's not on deck teaching life's lessons and the art of a great breaststroke, you might find her out hiking the trails of the Wasatch, or playing a mean game of frisbee. Chelsea's the daughter of David L. Peterson and Crystal L. Peterson, who still reside in Omaha. The former is a huge Swami fan who makes it out regularly for the big meets and cheers mercilessly for Chelsea's budding young stars.

Megan Bush

Age Group Coach / Rising Swami I

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Growing up, Megan Bush swam competitively for SYAC (now Swim Utah) for 4 years before heading into high school swimming at Judge Memorial Catholic High School where she competed four years and served as Team Captain for the Bulldogs during her senior campaign. Megan then moved on to Drexel University in Philadelphia where she competed as a distance swimmer her freshman year.  She's taught private and group lessons at the JCC, where she was a lifeguard for 5 years. Megan recently transferred to the U of U from Drexel University, where she was also a member of the women's varsity Crew team.  She is majoring in nursing, and loves working with kids! 

Jill Dahle

Age Group Coach / Rising Swami I

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Jill Dahle began her swimming career as a summer league swimmer who was more concerned with post-meet treats than winning races. However, shortly after joining Todd Etherington’s USA swim club Cottonwood Heights Aquatic Team (CHAT), Jill discovered that hard work can go a very long way in the water. Jill went on to swim for coach Bonnie Adair at Loyola Marymount University in Southern California as a distance freestyler. Bonnie’s ability to forge a team of independent, empowered athletes is a skill Jill hopes to carry into her coaching here at Race Swami. As a coach, Jill strives to develop confident young swimmers that are ready to take on the pool, and the world. She is passionate about swimming, working with young children, and the founding principals of Race Swami. After being on the beaches of Los Angeles for four years, Jill is thrilled to be back to her home in the mountains where she can ski, hike and run. Jill studied business for four years, including one semester in Germany. She now works as an Admissions Associate for Rowland Hall and coaches our Rising Swami 1 groups.

Bret Van Ausdall

Age Group Coach / Rising Swami I & II

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Growing up in Iowa, Dr. Bret Van Ausdall swam nearly his entire adolescent life—up to the age of 21. A backstroker as a youngster, Bret switched to breaststroke in high school and eventually qualified for the All Classes State Meet. The times he raced at the state meet enabled Bret to pursue a college career at Eastern Illinois University under Ray Padovan. However, this career was cut short by two shoulder surgeries. Graduate studies in organic chemistry brought Bret to Utah, where he finished his PhD. Shortly after this in 2012, Bret became Assistant Coach at West High School with Casey Jackson to start his swim coaching career, where he worked extensively with beginning swimmers and state contenders alike, and volunteered to lead 7am Saturday practices. Bret still swims on occasion, mainly for triathlon preparation and an occasional master’s swim meet. Dr. Bret has a deep passion for swimming, exercise, and fitness. While coaching, it is his intent to instill good technique and a hard=work-and-swim-smarter-philosophy.