Nichole Gaines is the Head Swim Coach for the Rockford Marlins
Swim Club. Coach Gaines brings a wealth of experience to her role
with the Marlins. Prior to joining the Marlins in 2016, she was the
Head Coach of the Belvidere YMCA Barracudas, where she managed the
age group swim team and grew the team to 91 swimmers. During her
tenure in Belvidere, she and her staff coached 24 swimmers to State
Championships and 18 swimmers to Regional Championships, with
several placing in the top 10 at those meets.
Since joining the Marlins, Coach Gaines has helped to grow the
team by 68%. She has developed and implemented a comprehensive
training program that has sent 42 swimmers to Regional
Championships, 13 to Age Group State Championships, three to
Central Zone Championships, one to Senior State Championships, one
to Speedo Sectionals, qualified five for NCSA Age Group
Championships, and sent 11 swimmers to the Open Water State and
Open Water Zone Championships.
Coach Gaines believes in communication, enthusiasm, and
engagement with all swimmers in order to create an environment of
unity through hard work and fun. As a former Marlins swimmer
herself, she is proud of the rich history behind the Rockford
Marlins Swim Club, and she is excited to help the team continue its
Seniors / Age Group Coach
Traci Torbert has been coaching girls and boys swimming for over fifteen years. She started in 2001 as an Assistant Coach for both the Girls and Boys swim teams at Belvidere High School. In 2009, she became the Head Coach of the Belvidere North Girls and Boys Swimming & Diving team. In 2011, her role shifted to Head Coach of the Belvidere Co-op Girls Swimming & Diving team, a position she still holds today. Traci also served as an Assistant Coach for the Belvidere YMCA Barracudas Swim Team for four years, beginning in 2013, and has organized and coached the Belvidere Stroke Clinic since 2011.
When Traci took over as Head Coach of the Girls Swimming & Diving team in Belvidere, the program had perennially finished in the bottom of the NIC-10 Conference. Since that time, Traci’s stewardship has transformed the team into one of the conference’s top programs – winning back-to-back Conference and Sectional titles in 2014 and 2015. She has coached state qualifiers every year since 2010, with three swimmers qualifying as All-State. Traci was named NIC-10 and Sectional Coach of the Year in 2012, 2014, and 2015.
Traci knows that while every successful program needs top performing swimmers, to build a championship program you need depth. That is why Coach Torbert knows that the growth and development of every swimmer is important. In addition to coaching for the Rockford Marlins and Belvidere Co-op, Traci Torbert is a teacher at Belvidere North High School.
Seniors/Age Group Coach
Will Zerey grew up in São Paulo, Brasil and began
swimming competitively at a young age. As a swimmer, he specialized
in the 100m and 200m breaststroke, and in the 400m and 800m
distance freestyle events. In High School, Will was named captain
of his swim team; he also placed fourth in the 100m breaststroke at
the State Championships his senior year. Will continued his
swimming career through his sophomore year at the Universidade
Federal de São Carlos before moving to the U.S. to finish
While living in Brasil, Will coached a wide skillset of swimmers
with Aquática Swim Club, where he assisted in developing a
specialized training program for competitive meets. In addition, he
both played and coached club soccer for many years. A fun fact
about Will is that he is fluent in English and Portuguese, as well
as proficient in Spanish. With his enthusiastic personality and
passion for the sport of swimming, Will makes a positive impact for
the Rockford Marlins.
As an Assistant Swim Coach for the Rockford Marlins, Coach Will
works primarily with the Junior and Senior swimmers.
Nate M Theisen
Assistant Swim Coach
Nate Theisen’s swimming background includes three years with the Rockford Marlins, three years with the Rockford Christian Middle School Team, and four years on the varsity swim team at Rockford Christian High School. He also served for four years as a lead learn-to-swim instructor, and four years as a lifeguard. As a swimmer, Nate preferred to swim distance events, and especially enjoyed competing in the 200yd and 500yd freestyle. Nate recently competed his EMT certificate, and is currently a student at Rock Valley College.
As an Assistant Swim Coach for the Rockford Marlins, Coach Nate spends most of his time with the Black Marlins and Blue Marlins swim groups. Coach Nate also serves as the primary in-water swim coach for our White Marlins swim group. The White Marlins group is designed to bridge the gap between learn-to-swim lessons and competitive team swimming, and with our youngest swimmers in mind.