Coach Mike is no stranger to the
pool, having been around competitive swimming for many years.
Whether it be club, high school, or college level swimming, the
sport has been a constant in his life and he is thrilled to
continue that growth with PAAC. His experience has allowed him to
acquire a unique perspective on training and approach to the
As an age group athlete, Coach Mike
embraced swimming and set several local records in his hometown
area of Reading. After suffering a leg injury in high school, Coach
Mike turned to swimming as a means of recovery and therapy both
physically and mentally. After competing at the collegiate level at
Albright College, he was a top performer on the men’s team,
winning four consecutive Men’s MAC Conference Team
Championships from 2002 thru 2006.
Most recently, Coach Mike’s
resume has included Head Age Group Coach for EMAC as well as
assisting the Emmaus High School Team to many District
Championships. For the past two years, Coach Mike has coached in
his home district of Southern Lehigh, by assisting the High School
team and SOLECO team. His philosophy for age group swimming has
been to, first and foremost, engage the young athlete through
structured enjoyment before mastering an exponential disciplined
edge. His greatest enjoyment is seeing the athletes grow, flourish
and take the discipline of this sport to college, career, and
Coach Mike enjoys leading a life of
health and fitness as well as spending time with his wife, Jackie,
and their two young sons, Jack and Joey.
Associate Head Coach
Jacob has coached at PAAC for several years. He has experience coaching all ages and ability levels and is currently the Gold Group coach. While overseeing Gold, he has coached dozens of JO swimmers, JO finalists, multiple Zones qualifiers, a Zone champion, and multiple Sectional qualifiers. Jacob previously served as an assistant coach for the Parkland High School Varsity Swim Team, where he assisted in coaching several swimmers at both the District and State level. He also was formerly the head coach of Kaybrook Green Hills Summer Swim Team in Orefield.
Jacob holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from James Madison University. He went on to earn his Juris Doctorate from Villanova University School of Law. Outside of coaching, Jacob is a Partner at the law firm O’Keefe, Miller & Thielen, P.C., a general practice firm with offices in Fleetwood and Allentown. He currently serves as President of the Valley Swim League Board of Directors. Jacob swam for both PAAC and Parkland High School where he was a four year varsity letter winner, and competed at both the district and state level.
You can follow him on Twitter @PAAC_CoachJT
Assistant Coach - Bronze
Coach Steve returned to PAAC in
February 2015, to coach both the Bronze group and the STARS group.
He immediately re-established goals for both groups, and
expectations were far exceeded by season’s end.
His first tenure at PAAC lasted
from April, 2005 to June, 2010. During that time, he coached many
Middle Atlantic Junior Olympic and Elite Meet qualifiers, including
some champions. Steve had one swimmer attain TOP 16 status. Steve
has also coached adults over the years as he guided the Westend
Racquet Club Masters swimmers from November, 1994 until September,
2013. He competed in Masters swim meets as well, starting in 1992
until he retired in 2007.
As a child, Steve competed in club
swimming while growing up in Springfield (Delaware County) PA,
starting at age 7 until he graduated high school. He swam first for
the Community YMCA in Upper Darby, PA then for the Suburban Swim
Club in Marple-Newtown, PA. Steve’s passion for swimming goes
beyond the pool as he served as Committee Chairman for the Delaware
Valley Masters Swim Committee from September, 2002 until September
2006. He also served as Westend Masters Swim Meet Director from
1993 to 1997.
Professionally, Steve has been is
sales and sales management since graduating Lehigh University in
1980. He is married, with 2 children (twin daughters) and 2
Assistant Coach - STARS
Tjasa Ritchey is a 1993 graduate of Denison University, where she
was an NCAA 18-time Division III swimmer over her four years and a
NCAC 200 backstroke champion in 1993. During college summers, Tjasa
coached at ACE Aquatics in Mount Kisco, New York as well as for a
country club team in Louisville, KY. Upon graduating from
Denison, Tjasa spent two years teaching elementary children
(kindergarten and then first grade) at a private school outside of
New York City. During this time, she started training for
triathlons. She then moved with her husband, Julian, to
Jacksonville, FL where she became an A.C.E. Certified personal
trainer and taught gymnastics.
Tjasa moved to the Lehigh Valley in 1997. She continued to be a
personal trainer and she was the assistant men’s and
women’s swim coach at Lafayette College from 1998-2001, all
while pursuing her triathlon career, where she eventually turned
professional. Tjasa is a five-time Ironman finisher, four of which
were Ironman Hawaii (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000), and one Ironman Lake
Placid (2000). She then took a long break from everything to raise
her four children children. Tjasa currently serves on as
secretary of the Board of Directors for The Ballet Guild of
the Lehigh Valley, Inc. She is happy to be back on deck coaching
Instructional and Stars groups and helping out wherever she is
Assistant Coach - Bronze
The majority of Amanda
Svetz’s fondest childhood memories revolve around the pool.
She started swimming competitively as a 5 year old in her summer
swim league, and began swimming for PAAC at the age of 11. She was
a Junior Olympic, Eastern Zone, and Senior Championship qualifier.
Amanda represented Allentown Central Catholic at the PIAA District
XI State meet in 2019. She is currently studying nursing at The
Catholic University of America where she participates in Army
Amanda began coaching swim lessons
in 2018 and has been working with the Age Group swimmers since. She
enjoys the environment and energy of the swimmers and is excited to
continue sharing her love for swimming.
Assistant Coach - Bronze
Kaity Rockwell is a 2017 graduate of Albright College, where she
played colligate lacrosse and swam for the Lions. She was a MAC
qualifier in the fly and distance events. During her years at
Albright, Rockwell was named to the All-America Scholar Team and
the MAC Sportsmanship Awards.
Kaity was named the head swim and dive coach at Cedar Crest College
in May of 2019 after serving as the assistant coach during the
2018-2019 season. During her first year as the head coach, she lead
the team to win it's first ever conference championship in program
history. It marks the first time
since 1997 that a conference
championship will be brought back to Cedar Crest College. Kaity
also lead the program to be selected to
College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA)
All-America Scholar Team.
Kaity is currently pursuing a master's degree in early and special
education at Cedar Crest College and expects to graduate in the
Spring of 2021.
Assistant Coach - Silver
Jose calls PAAC a “home away from home.” He
began swimming at the age of 10 when he joined PAAC and continued
with PAAC all the way up to college. As a swimmer,
Jose was the first swimmer from Northern Lehigh High
to go on and compete at the PIAA and state level. He primarily swam
distance events where he received runner up in the 500 and bronze
in the 200 free for District XI. He continued his swimming career
for two years at Tufts University.
Jose is a recent graduate from Tufts University with a
Bachelor’s in Biology and Child Studies & Human
Jose is works at a behavioral institution as a
certified EMT when he is not coaching on deck, and plans on
attending medical school in the near future. He is extremely
excited to work with the children on fine technique and fast
swimming. As well as, he expects to use his knowledge in child
development to minimize common swimmer injuries that begin at a
young age and teach valuable lessons.
Assistant Coach - Senior
is Coach Matt’s first year with PAAC. Native to the
Lehigh Valley, Coach Matt’s a familiar face on the pool deck
coaching for many programs throughout the years, most
recently EMAC along side Coach Mike and Rodale’s FAST
program. Coach Matt has a Bachelor’s degree from Kutztown
University as well as Automotive Technologies from
Assistant Coach - Silver, Senior
Cody has been around the pool his entire life. He started lessons
at Emmaus Aquatic Club at the age of four and then went on to train
and compete for the club throughout college. He competed for
Emmaus High School where he was fortunate enough to learn how
important teamwork and hard work were to being on a successful
team. He continued swimming in college at Seton Hall
University where he was Co-Captain for his Junior and Senior year,
leading the team to their first two Big East Championships.
Cody believes that the mental aspect of the sport is the key to a
successful, happy swimmer and is excited to work with young
athletes at developing the skills needed to be successful both in
and out of the pool. Cody tries to emphasize the importance
of improvement and strategy in races and believes that "progress
over perfection" is the way to motivate young athletes.
Outside of swimming, Cody currently works for a medical device
company's data analytics department focusing on Data Visualization.
He is also pursuing his MBA from Moravian College.
Assistant Coach - Instructional
This is coach Katie’s first year with PAAC. Katie currently
serves as assistant coach on the Southern Lehigh Varsity Swim Team.
She is a 2010 Southern Lehigh High School Graduate and Southern
Lehigh High School Varsity Swim Team Alumni. She has also coached
at EMAC, taught swim lessons at Swim-in Zone, and is currently the
head summer swim coach for SOLECO Stingrays. Katie has her
Bachelor’s degree from Penn State and Master's degree from
Lehigh University. She is currently an Elementary School Teacher in
the Southern Lehigh School district.
Coach Alex has been with PAAC for
several years. Alex started with PAAC as a
Learn-to-Swim instructor while swimming for Parkland High
School. After graduating from Bloomsburg University in 2016,
Alex returned to PAAC and was Head Coach of the Silver group for 3
years until he took a break to focus on his career in health
care specializing in Cardiac Electrophysiology. Alex brings
many years of experience in competitive swimming to
PAAC including superior strategy in the all four strokes, the
200 yard events, and the distance events. While coaching the
Silver group, he coached many JO qualifiers, JO champions, MA
Zone qualifiers, and coached at the 2017 Easter Zones
Alex holds a Bachelor’s in
Exercise Science from Bloomsburg University, where he was a 4-year
student-athlete, NCAA qualifier, 800 Freestyle Relay record holder,
and to this day holds 8 All-Time Top 10 times. He likes to use
that knowledge to strengthen and improve each athlete to the
best of their abilities. Outside of the pool, Alex works for
Medtronic, a leading medical device company where he is a
clinical specialist in pacemaker and defibrillator
technology including implantation of these devices and field
troubleshooting. In his spare time, Alex likes to spend time
with his soon-to-be wife, Kate, swim, play golf, and play with his
Coach Jim began coaching with PAAC
in November 2014, but his roots in the Lehigh Valley swimming scene
go way back. He was a high school state champion at Allen High
School in the early 1980s and still holds the 50 free school record
there. He went on to swim at Clarion and then returned to Allentown
where he was a firefighter until his recent retirement. For the
last few years, Jim has been an assistant coach for Salisbury High
School, helping their boys' team to the 2013 State Championship.
Coach Jim is an energetic teacher and uses knowledge and passion
for yoga to help PAAC swimmers improve their strength and
flexibility. We are excited to have him on board!