CATS Partners
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 one of the board members.
Coaching Staff

Jeff Arce

Head Coach


Jeff has been coaching with the CATS Aquatic Team since 2004 and has been the Head Coach of the CATS Aquatic Team since 2008. Jeff spent his first four years at CATS as the Head Age Group Coach. Jeff has previously served as Head Coach of the District Unified Swim Team,


Jeff primarily works with the Silver Group but you will see him at many other practices watching or giving feedback. 


Jeff is an ASCA Level 4 certified coach he has worked with athletes of all ages and abilities. He has spent most of his coaching career working with age group swimmers who have been Sectional Finalists, Nationally Top 16 Ranked, Age Group State Champions, Zone Champions and State Record Holders. Jeff has seen the CATS Aquatic team place as high as 5th at the Illinois Age Group Championship.

Aside from his work with CATS, Jeff has been the Team Illinois Zone Manager and has served as a coach for many Illinois Camps and Clinics. He also served as Boys Water Polo Coach for Libertyville High School from 2004-2008.

Educated at University Wisconsin-Madison, Valparaiso University and University of Illinois-Chicago Jeff has a Bachelors’ Degree in Mathematics with an Illinois teaching certificate. Jeff swam competitively at Wisconsin and Valparaiso until a shoulder injury ended his career.

Jeff and his wife Nina, daughter Hannah, son Danny and dog Casey live in Arlington Heights! Jeff has a simple philosophy when it comes to swimming: He is committed to providing “something for everyone,” regardless of their ability or experience. He believes that teaching swimmers Life Values through competition is more important than fast times. He feels that learning the value of hard work, discipline and self-respect though sportsmanship, respect for others, will result in an overall successful person.

Vlad Pyshnenko

Head Senior Coach


Coach Vlad hails from Russia carrying his enormous wealth of swimming knowledge as an athlete and a coach.
After arriving in America a little more then 18 years ago, Vlad has worked with all different age groups. His heart and soul is swimming and he takes great pride in watching that passion develop in the swimmers.

His motivation is contagious; he will help achieve goals in a proactive and entertaining style.

Coach Vlad is a former Russian freestyler who won one gold medal (World Record) and two silver medals at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona and one silver medal 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. He also won two silver medals at the 1994 World Aquatics Championships in Rome.

Vlad still compiting at the Masters level and currently holding few US National records for 35-39 and 40-44 Age Group, plus 3 World Records (1 - on 200 Free for 35-39 Age Group and 2 - on 100 & 200 Free for 40-44 Age Group)

Since arriving in the U.S., Vlad has coached at COHO Swim Team, Glenbrook Aquatics (formerly Northbrook Spartan Swim Club) and at CATS Aquatic Team.

Mike Cunningham

Head Developmental Coach


Coach Mike holds a B.S. in Physical Education and coaching, with a minor in History and Kinesiology from Western Illinois University. He is a life plus member of ASCA, and a fully certified USA swimming coach.  He has coached numerous regional, age group state, and senior state qualifiers in his previous 15 years coaching experience.  He was also the 13-18 Zone coach for Illinois in 2005 and 2009, and the Head Zones coach for Team Illinois 2013-2015.  He started Midway Aquatics in 2005, the club grew from 25 swimmers to 170, and developed repeated regional, age group state, central zone, and senior state qualifiers.  He also started Life Time Illinois Swim Team in 2013, and introduced the health club to the competitive world if Illinois Swimming.  Coach Mike also served on the Illinois Swimming Board of Directors as Coaches Representative and Senior Vice Chair.  Along with his love of swimming, he enjoys riding his motorcycle, wake boarding, snowboarding, and spending time with his family.

Natalia Mechtcheriakova

Lead Green Group Coach


Chris Crawford

Gold Group Coach


This is Coach Chris' eleventh season with CATS.  During his time with CATS, he has worked with all age levels and worked with many successful athletes. He is currently an ASCA Level 3 and was the lead 13-14 Boys coach for the Illinois Central zones team who won the 2017 Central zones championship. Before CATS, Coach Chris began his swimming career at the age of six and continued through his senior year of high school. Both as an athlete and coach, Chris has 27 years of experience in the sport of swimming.

Coach Chris graduated from Purdue University with a B.A. in History and minor in Sociology.  When he is not on the pool deck, Coach Chris spends his days working in the Special Education department at Libertyville High School.  In his free time, Chris enjoys spending time with his new wife and dogs along with staying active competing in triathlon races of various distances.

Ben Glick

Assistant Orange Group Coach


Barbara K Cunningham

Lead Purple and Blue Group Coach


This is my 3rd year as Lead coach for the Purple group at Cats, and 2nd year as Lead coach for the Blue group.  I am an ASCA Level 2 Certified Swim Coach, with an 8 and Under specialty.  I really started my swimming life when my husband and I owned our own Swim America Swim Lesson program for 4 years.  Once we decided to close the business, I worked at Goldfish Swim School for a year, before I started my coaching life here.  My family is a bit of a swimming family.   My husband also works at Cats as the Lead Coach of Orange and Head Developmental Coach.    I have 2 kids, a daughter and a son.  My Daughter swam for many years and was on the silver and red group at Cats before pursuing Volleyball.   My son is currently in the Silver group and loves to swim.  I love coaching, teaching swimmers new skills, seeing them progress every practice, and develop a passion for the sport!  My hobbies outside of swimming are baking and decorating cakes, gardening, and being at the lake in Wisconsin with my family.

Amy Pellettieri

Assistant Silver Group Coach


Amy is in her fifth year with CATS as an Assistant Senior Coach in the Gold Group.  Amy started her coaching career when she retired from swimming and became a Co-Head coach for the University of Illinois' Masters Swim Team.  Amy swam competitively for close to 14 years and still enjoys to swim today. 
She spent many years dedicated to the sport and enjoys sharing her strong passion as a coach.  Amy graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2009 with a Masters in Special Education and a Bachelors in Early Childhood Special Education. 
Along with coaching, Amy is an Early Childhood Special Education teacher with the Fremont School District #79.

Doreen Lemke

Green Group Coach


Patrick Costello

Assistant Purple and Blue Group Coach


Coach Pat has been with the CATS Aquatic Team for the last six years.  Besides coaching CATS, he also coach for Vernon Hills High School with the boys and girls swim team and the boys water polo team.  Coach Pat currently teach in Gurnee at Woodland intermediate.  Recently he moved into the Vernon Hills area with his fiance and will be getting married in June.

Sammy Jo Mahler

Assistant Silver Coach