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. For all questions related to administrative, such as dues, safety, or policy issues, please contact head coach, Annie Ryder.

Coaching Staff

Ben Gill

Head Coach


Group currently coaching: Any and all groups

Swimming Background: My competitive swimming background began with the Wave many years ago! Growing up in La Crosse, I swam for the Wave and Central High School until moving on to college.  I swam four years at St. Cloud State University and having been coaching ever since. I have been a head coach in Arizona of a club team and a High School team, I coached a couple years in Appleton with the YMCA and most recently at was the Head Coach of St. Cloud YMCA and an assistant coach for  St. Cloud State University.

Favorite Event: My favorite events were the 100 Fly, 200 and 400 IM, and the 200 Breaststroke

Favorite part about coaching: I love the moment in which a swimmer understands a specific stroke technique that they have been working on; the “light bulb” moment when a swimmer really gets it.

What you like to do in spare time: I enjoy running, biking, playing guitar, and hanging out with my Basset Hound, Lucy.

Chris Babinec

Novice Coach


Name: Chris Babinec

Group: Novice and Junior

Swimming Background: Chris swam for the Y for 5 years and has been coaching for the past 20 years!

Favorite Event: 400 IM

Favorite Part About Coaching: Chris loves working with children and building relationships with them. She also finds joy helping them accomplish new skills and improving

In her spare time Chris likes to watch her children in their activities.

Melanie Winter

Novice and Junior Elite Coach


Name: Melanie Winter

Group: Novice and Junior Elite

Swimming Background: Melanie swam for the Wave as a youth and has coached for the Wave for the past 10 years

Favorite Event: 500 Free and 50 Fly

Favorite Part About Coaching: Melanie enjoys bringing kids together as a team and working to achieve their goals

In her spare time, Melanie enjoys hiking with her husband, playing sudoku, reading and baking.


Tiara Delapp



Name: Tiara Delapp

Group: Junior

Swimming Background: Tiara began swimming in 6th grade. She swam on various club teams throughout high school and swam for UW-L for two years. Tiara has coached swim teams in Minnesota and Wisconsin for four years before coming to the Wave. She has also been a swim instructor for nine years.

Favorite Event: 50 Free

Favorite Part About Coaching: Her favorite part about coaching is seeing the kids smiling and having a good time while reaching their goals.

In her spare time, Tiara enjoys traveling and spending time outside.


Alex Watral



Name: Alex Watral


Swimming Background: Alex has been on swim team since she was 8 years old and swam all the way through high school. During her Junior and Senior of high school she coached a 10 and under group on her old team. This is her second year coaching with the Wave.

Favorite Event:100 Breast and 50 Free

Favorite Part About Coaching: Alex enjoys the satisfaction of seeing the swimmers improve over the season

In her spare time, Alex enjoys reading, sleeping, playing tennis, crocheting, and spending time with family

Eric Wojta

Senior Coach


Name: Eric Wojta

Group: Seniors

Swimming Background: Eric started swimming as a junior in high school as rehab from a back injury. He then went on to swim for UW-L. Eric has been coaching the Senior group for the past 18 years! He has also working at the University of Michigan and the University of Georgia swim camps. His biggest swimming accomplishment is beating All American Swimmer Chris Maury in the 25 Backstroke in Federal Way Washington in 1991.

Favorite Event: Sprint Freestyle, the shorter the better

Favorite Part About Coaching:Eric's favorite part about coaching is the opportunity to work with swimmers toward a common goal, getting a chance for people to work together, and mentioning there are no better people to work with.

In his spare time Eric enjoys camping, riding bike, eating ice cream, smiling at his newborn son Grady, and being with his wife (Jill), dog Miki and two cats Gracie and Studly.

Mary Patrek

Senior Coach


A Minnesota native, Mary comes to the Wave after swimming for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. She recently received her Master's in Human Performance from UW-L. Mary loves sharing her passion for swimming and being a mentor.

Heather Foley



Name: Heather Foley

Group: Senior

Swimming Backgroud: Swam for the La Crosse YMCA swim team for 9 years and 4 years at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Favorite Event: 100 Butterfly

Favorite part about coaching: Watching young athletes work hard to achieve their goals and see how they grow as a person in and out of the pool.

In her spare time, Heather enjoys spending time with family and friends.