Head Swim Coach
Darian Townsend’s swimming career started at a very young age
in South Africa, where he grew up. He swam for Seals Swimming
Club and attended high school at Maritzburg College, during which
time he won numerous school championships and broke multiple
records. After high school, Darian moved to Florida and joined the
University of Florida Swim Team and subsequently transferred to the
University of Arizona. As a member of both teams, Darian won 2 NCAA
titles as an individual (200 free and 200 IM), 5 relay National
titles and 1 Team Title.
He attended the Olympic Games in 2004 (Athens, Greece), 2008
(Beijing, China) and 2012 (London, England). In 2004 Darian won a
gold medal for South Africa as part of their 4 x 100 freestyle
relay team.. He also attended the World Championships and the
Commonwealth Games as a member of the South African Swim
Darian's biggest individual accomplishment as a swimmer
was in 2009 when he broke the World Record in the 200 IM in Berlin,
Since earning his US citizenship in 2014 Darian has represented the
United States at Nationals, World Championships and the Pan
American Games where he won 2 silver medals. He attended the US
Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska during the summer of 2016 and
most recently has attended several Masters meets for which he now
holds multiple Masters World Records. He continues to train at the
YMCA as part of the Masters Team.
Darian has taken the next step in his career by accepting the role
of Head Coach of the Westside Silver Fins. He currently coaches the
Senior Elite group. Coach Darian is passionate about swimming and
hopes to be able to pass on the knowledge he learnt in his swimming
career to the swimmers he now coaches.
Michele J Hartwick
YWSF Program Coordinator
Michele stumbled into the swimming world and the YMCA Westside
Silver Fins through her son, after he joined the team following a
knee injury. Her time here started out with her volunteering
at a swim meet as a timer, followed by the next meet as Clerk of
Course and then Meet Director. Her love for all things
administrative ultimately brought her on as a part time staff
member in 2015, primarily as a liaison between the PAC and the swim
team office. Since then she has taken on more
responsibility within the swim team administration and the
YMCA and in early 2017 was given a full time position as the
YMCA Aquatic /YWSF Coordinator.
While her son has left for college, Michele will continue her
work with YWSF and plans on helping the team continue its success
and make it even stronger moving forward.
Randy D Gertenbach
Senior Group Coach
Hi! I am Randy Gertenbach and I coach the Senior Group.
I started swimming competitively at the age of 8 in El Centro,
CA, with Imperial Valley Desert Aquatics. I swam club and high
school, which paved the way for me to swim in college at the
University of Pittsburgh. At University of Pittsburgh, I was
an 11-time Big East Champion, which ranged from the 100 and 200
breastroke, and 200 IM. I qualified for NCAA’s in
2002, 2003, 2004 and was a 3 –time All American in the 200
breastroke. After graduating from the University of
Pittsburgh with a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics, I
then pursued my Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and
Cross-Cultural Teaching Techniques at the University of California,
San Diego. I am currently a High School Math Teacher, as well
as being an assistant swim coach on this amazing team!!
My coaching philosophy is commitment, teamwork and pride in what
you do will can take you anywhere. I believe that we are all
“teachers” when it comes to swimming, and we learn and
grow every day.
I am a person that loves to give back to his friends and community,
and coaching swimming is something where I can do give back to
both. I love that I am able to share my love of swimming with
our athletes. Swimming has shaped me and my individualism, and I
feel it can do the same for our present and future
Head Age Group Coach
Ryan Kent is currently the Head Age Group Coach for the Westside Silver Fins. Ryan began his coaching career as Head Coach for the Goodyear Sharks recreational swim team in the summer of 2000. In only a few short years, Coach Ryan, with the assistance of Coach Melissa, grew the Goodyear Sharks from 97 to 340+ swimmers and captured three consecutive Mar-West Championship titles before transitioning the team to their new coaching staff in the summer of 2005.
Ryan started coaching for the Westside Silver Fins in August of 2003. Since then, he has had the opportunity to coach numerous State top-5 finalists, Far-Western top-5 finalists, and Sectional swimmers. He was also selected as the 2013 Arizona Age Group Coach of the Year by Arizona Swimming. Ryan is extremely dedicated to the success of his swimmers and feels they respond to his dedication with enthusiasm and lots of hard work. Ryan believes that 'perfect practice makes perfect' and success in swimming is attributed to consistently applying good technique training. Ryan also feels that if his swimmers can see regular progress in workout sessions and if they are frequently placed in race-type scenarios that they will be much more confident when they step up on the blocks in a meet situation.
Coach Ryan has a contagious passion for the sport of swimming which can be observed on a daily basis by his swimmers and colleagues. Ryan swam for the Goodyear Sharks as a youngster and later for the West Valley Aquatics Club (WSF), Glendale Gauchos and Agua Fria High School.
Silver Group Coach
Bronze Group Coach
Hi! I am Kate Brinson and I coach the Bronze group. I started
swimming competitively at the age of 5 in Tucson, first with the
Desert Dolphins and then with the Tucson Swim Club (now Tucson
Ford). I swam club, high school and college intermural while in
college in Texas. Previously, I was the head coach for a club
team in Washington State and a head high school head coach in both
Texas and Arizona. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise
Physiology from Texas State University and Master’s in
Education from Northern Arizona University. I have also spent time
in Australia at the University Sydney as a researcher in their
Exercise Physiology Department, studying movement with athletes and
patients who were quadriplegic and paraplegic.
My coaching philosophy is hard work and determination can take
you anywhere. I believe that it is my job as a coach to not only
coach our swimmers, but to help shape our kids to become better
versions of themselves. We can teach our swimmers how to win, but
as coaches it is also our jobs to teach them how to lose, how to be
humble enough to learn and respectful enough to be true to
The sport of swimming has given me so much throughout of my life
and no matter where I have traveled or lived the water has always
felt like home. I love that I am able to share my love of swimming
with our athletes. I think Coach Meg said it best; "I want to
give back to swimming what swimming has given to me."
Fins I & II Group Coach
Denise is currently a swim instructor for the Southwest Valley YMCA and also coaches our Fins I and Fins II groups.
Denise swam club for Mission Valley Swim Club. She swam 4 years at Northern Arizona University and also swam>3.
Fins I & II Group Coach
My name is Denise Stewart
and I am the Senior II coach. You will see me on deck at
Senior meets and at Age Group meets. I have three children,
identical twin boys and a daughter. All three of my kids swim
for the YMCA Westside Silver Fins. I was a competitive swimmer
from the age of 9 -18. I was forced to quit swimming due to
injuries that never healed correctly. I turned that set back
into a positive by sharing my knowledge and experience while
coaching the summer recreation team with the City of Glendale.
After that one summer I was hooked on coaching. I have been
coaching and teaching swim lessons for over 16yrs. I am also a
Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor, Water Safety Instructor and Water
Safety Instructor Trainer.
My coaching experience
ranges from summer recreation teams, USA certified teams (in South
Carolina and Arizona), private school team, high school, masters,
triathletes and open water swimmers. I am an American Swim
Coaches Association Level 2 coach. I have coached swimmers to
regional, state and far western qualifying times. I am the
current Head Swim and Dive Coach for Verrado High School. I
have been coaching the VHS team since 2010. I had the honor of
being voted Division II Girls High School Coach of the Year for the
2012-2013 season for swimming.
I am a firm believer in
technique and making practice work for everyone.
Bill Downey was employed in the hospitality industry for over 40 years. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a degree in Mass Communications, Bill secured his first position with General Mills Restaurants. Initially hired as a Management Trainee, he progressed through the organization ultimately holding the position of Regional Director. In this capacity, he held responsibility for 25 York Steak House Restaurants.
After moving to Chicago, Bill was hired as the General Manager for Harry Caray’s Restaurant where he worked for over 5 years. During that time, Bill was responsible for leading the front and back of house management team for this lunch and dinner operation which exceeded $10 millon in annual sales.
Bill was recruited by Levy Restaurants Sports and Entertainment division. Bill would go on to oversee the Suite operations at the newly opened Comiskey Park. In this capacity, he oversaw 3 full service operations, including 120 suites, a 2,100 seat outdoor venue, and an 800 seat members only restaurant, The Terrace Club.
During his time in Cleveland, Bill was promoted to a Regional Director of Operations position where he also worked with the Sports & Entertainment partners at Toronto Sky Dome and the MCI Center in Washington, DC.
In March of 2000, Bill joined Beechmont Country Club as General Manager and Chief Operating Officer for this private, 900 member Jewish Country Club. Bill was responsible for all aspects of the business , including the 18-hole golf course, newly renovated Fitness Center, complete Food & Beverage operations, Tennis, and a Summer Children’s Camp.
Bill and his wife Susie moved to Phoenix, Arizona in November of 2010. Wanting to experience hospitality within the Hotel / Resort industry, Bill joined The Phoenician as the General Manager of Il Terrazzo, the resort’s fine dining operation.
He began his “second career” at LifeTime Fitness working in the cafe anon then was asked to be trained for swim instructor, shortly thereafter he assumed the responsibilities of Masters Swim Coach. After building the program from 6 participants to 64, the team was competing in meets, including two trips to the US Masters National Championships.
He is now taken on the role of Masters Coach for the Valley YMCA Silver Fins. He is looking forward to continuing his knowledge and grows the program for the new team.
Bill lives in Peoria, Arizona with his wife Susie, and their rescued Old English Sheepdog, Oliver
Head Diving Coach
Coach Bill started diving through the local summer pool league in New Jersey, and continued through High School. He also participated in Track and Field. The 800 was his main race and it earned him a college scholarship, thereby ending his diving career temporarily.
When his young sons decided to try diving, he re-engaged in the sport and began coaching at the Goodyear pool in the mid 90’s. And later, with ’76 Olympian, Barb Nejman, who became his coaching mentor for the next 20 years.
Bill and Barb started the Silver Fins Dive team in 2012 and have grown it to produce some of the top divers in the State, with a number qualifying for national level competition. In addition to the Silver Fins Dive team, Coach Bill coaches at four Agua Fria District High Schools.
Meg started competitive swimming when at
the age of 4, swimming in Tucson, Phoenix, and then in college in
Texas. She started two high school programs in Ardmore, OK and was
also head coach of Ardmore Aquatics. Athletes Meg coached included
beginning swimmers to national team swimmers with several state
champions and state record holders in age group USA Swimming and
YMCA. Zones qualifiers, National YMCA qualifiers and many Oklahoma
high school state qualifiers.
Meg says "I am a big believer in
technique, working hard and making swimming fun! I hope I can give
back to swimming what swimming has given to me over the years, a
great work ethic, some lasting friendships and wonderful memories.
If you see me on deck or in the water, please stop me and say
I started swimming in April of 1993 with the Litchfield Lagartos
because a new friend asked me to swim with her. I began
swimming for the Glendale Gauchos August of 1993 and have swam for
Phoenix Swim Club (1997-2003), Sun Devil Masters (2004-2009) and
Phoenix Swim Club Masters from (2016-2017).
I was a 4 year All-American State Qualifier and I am currently
the AZ Open Water 5K Champion in the 30-34 Age Group and 4th over
My Coaching philosophy: Every athlete is their own
individual and learns and performs individually. As I coach I adapt
and adjust to the athletes I coach. I believe in doing the
hard work and not just working hard.
Coaching is my passion. I love helping others succeed and
help them fulfill their goals and achieving every success along the
Strength & Conditioning