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 administration, such as dues, safety, or policy issues, please contact Mike Chasson.

Coaching Staff

Michael Chasson

Head Coach and President


Mike Chasson has been involved in competitive swimming for over 45 years and has coached at every level of swimming.  He began his career as an age group coach at Los Altos Aquatic Club in 1971.  Since then, he has coached at Santa Barbara Swim Club, Stanford University, Harvard University, Mass Bay Marlins, Arizona State University, and Sun Devil Aquatics.  He has coached Olympic Gold Medal winners, USA Swimming National Champions and Junior National Champions, NCAA Champions, and many NCAA and High School All Americans.

Mike coached swimmers at every Olympic Games from 1984 through 2008.  He has been a USA National Team Coach for many international trips, including Head Men’s Coach at the 1997 World University Games and an assistant coach at the Olympic Games in 1988 and Pan Pacific Championships in 1993.  He has had teams place in the top five at every major swimming competition in the United States.  He has been a speaker at the American Swim Coaches Association Convention as well a number of regional clinics.

While at Stanford, Mike coached five different NCAA Champions, and helped coach the team to the NCAA Championship in 1989.  While at Harvard, he won six Ivy League Championships and helped Harvard achieve an 11th place finish at the men’s NCAA’s in 1998, which is the highest finish ever for a non-scholarship school.  While at Arizona State, the men’s team finished in the top 20 nine times, and the women’s team did so six times.  This included three top ten finishes.  Mike coached 52 All Americans and helped swimmers to 58 school records.  His swimmers also achieved seven Pac-10 Championships and earned 165 Pac-10 All Academic honors.

Currently, Mike oversees and coaches the Cactus Aquatics program, which has included coaching every training group on the team at various times.  His background in club swimming for 18 years before going into college swimming gave him great preparation for guiding Sun Devil Aquatics, now Cactus Aquatics, which he started in 1998.  He previously started age two club programs and one masters program from scratch.  Mike believes strongly that age group swimming should promote technique, sportsmanship, and academic excellence.  A successful program should help swimmers develop a passion for the sport and encourage them to compete through high school and college, depending on their academic interests and school choice.

Mike is proud of the fact that he has remained in contact with swimmers he coached in the 70s, 80s, 90s and the 2000s.  These swimmers went on to successful academic and professional careers.  Mike has always encouraged his staff to have this same type of connection and interest in their athletes, which differentiates Cactus Aquatics from many other teams.  Mike will continue to build a positive environment that encourages future athletic, academic and personal growth.


Jens Nielsen

Gold, Silver, and Bronze Coach


Jens Nielsen is originally from Lakeville, Minnesota.  He attended Iowa State University where Jens was co-captain of the men’s swim team.  As a swimmer at Iowa State, Jens achieved All Big Eight Honors and participated in the 1984 NCAA Championships.  He graduated with a B.A. in Physical Education in 1988. Jens began coaching in 1986 and has coached swim teams in Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico and Arizona.  He has coached age-group, high school, and masters teams. Jens has coached swimmers who have competed at the Junior National and Senior National levels as well as swimmers who have gone on to swim collegiately at Division 1 schools such as Arizona State University, University of Arizona, University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University.  While Jens was the Head Coach of the Farmington High School Swim Team in Farmington, New Mexico, he led the men’s swim team to win the New Mexico Boys State High School Championship. Jens moved to Arizona in 1999 where he took a break from coaching for 17 years. Jens returned to coaching in 2016 when Coach Chasson hired him to coach the senior group for MAC West which later became Cactus Aquatics.  Jens lives in Tempe, Arizona with his wife, son and daughter.


Kyle Johnson

White and Blue Coach


Kyle has been involved in the world of swimming for most of his life. Growing up in Normal, Illinois, Kyle swam for over 12 years at various teams around town, one of which includes the 10-time silver medal club excellence team, the BNY Waves. Kyle also swam in high school for University High School in Normal, who is the only non-Chicago area team to win the Boys Illinois High School State Swimming Championship.
Kyle’s passion for swimming led him to start teaching swim lessons 4 years ago. Kyle taught lessons for 3 years, including one year at the local YMCA in Bloomington, and two years at the Marlins Swim Team, where Kyle learned to swim years before. Kyle went to college his freshman year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. During the summer of 2018, Kyle and his family moved from Illinois down to Ahwatukee, where he currently studies business and entrepreneurship at MCC.
Kyle started coaching with Cactus Aquatics in August of 2018. He currently coaches the White group, and assists with the Blue group. Kyle enjoys teaching kids the values of hard work and sportsmanship through the sport of swimming. Kyle is excited to continue pursuing his coaching career with Cactus Aquatics.