Coaches & Directors

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Coaching Staff

Mitchell Zackowski

Head Coach/Head USA Coach


Mitchell brings to our club many years of swimming and coaching experience. He began his swimming career at the age of 9, swimming for the Pottstown Y, He swam with them through high school. He graduated from The Hill School, and attended LaSalle University on a full ride swimming scholarship.

 He began his coaching career at 17 as an assistant coach at Sunnybrook  Swim Club and head coach the following year. He spent a  few summers as head coach at Sunnybrook.  After graduating college, he moved to Scranton for work.   While in Scranton, Mitchell taught swim  lessons at the Scranton YMCA and coached the USA Masters team.  After  moving back to the Pottstown Area he  was an assistant coach at Wissahickon Aquatic Club . At this point in his  career he wanted a more substantial role in a swim program so he started the  Tigershark Swim Team located at The Hill School.   He was head coach for 10 years.  After a break from coaching to further his career and personal life, he is ready to bring his knowledge and enthusiasm to our aquatic club.  

Ian Jackson

Lead Boys Coach/ USA Coach


Coaching experience: This will be Ian's first year coaching for the PVAC and USA teams. He has, in the past, taught swim lessons at the PVHS pool as well as worked as a lifeguard at 6 pools in the area.

Personal: Ian graduated from Perkiomen Valley High School in 2012, where he swam and played water polo for three years. He graduated with a degree in economics from Lebanon Valley College in 2012, where he swam four years as their lead distance swimmer. Ian now works with Dean of Students at Rosemont College in Bryn Mawr. His favorite food is macaroni and cheese, his favorite color is purple, his favorite book series is Harry Potter, and his favorite movie series is Star Wars.

Achievements: In his senior year at Perk Valley, Ian was named Varsity Water Polo Captain, the PVWP Defensive Player of the Year, an honorable mention for the All Conference Water Polo team, Unsung Hero for the swim team, and qualified for PIAA districts in the 500 free. In college, Ian was a 4 time MAC qualifier in the 500, 100, and 1650, and was named captain of the men's swim team his senior year. Ian is also an Eagle Scout, and has been participating in scouting since he was 7.

Philosophy of Coaching: "We are here to accomplish two things: work hard, and have fun. Swimmers should be working their very best to get faster and improve their technique, but they should also enjoy swimming and love being in the water. If their having too much fun, maybe they need to work a little harder. If they're working too hard, they need to have a little fun to balance it out."

Debbi Cancro

Lead Girls Coach/USA Coach


Coaching Experience: Debbi’s experience spans a combined 13 years of instruction, coaching the newest and youngest athletes as they are introduced to the sport of competitive swimming through pre-team.  Her coaching background began with the summer swim club, Laurelwood, and expanded to the Owen J. Roberts Age Group program. Most recently, she was a member of the coaching staff at the private USA Swim Club, Tiger Sharks.  

Personal: A self-employed business owner, Debbi Cancro brings to the Perkiomen Valley Aquatics Club not>

Achievements: Debbi retains her certification with USA Swimming, is ASCA Level 1 certified coach, Lifeguarding, CPR, AED & First Aid certified.  She maintains all clearances as required with the PVAC Aquatics Club.  Her knowledge with the fundamental techniques of stroke instruction, breathing, starts, turns and drill based workouts make her a valuable asset to the PVAC Aquatics Club.  

Philosophy of Coaching:  “Fostering the love of swimming through technique work, continuous stroke improvement, self discipline and personal responsibility”

Traci Sandin

Head Diving Coach


Coaching Experience:  Traci Sandin is known to her divers as Coach Traci.  Her competitive diving career began when she was in 6th grade at her public pool summer diving team and continued until she was 28 years old diving>

- DuBois High School diving coach (late 80's)
- Perkiomen Valley High School diving coach (mid 90's)
- Hill School diving coach (2002 - 2012)
- PVAC diving coach (2007-08 season)
- Hill Age Group Diving AAU instructional diving program (HAGD), owner & coach (strictly instructional no competition) - started 2007 and still doing clinics
- Perkiomen Valley High school coach - 2007 to present  

Personal: Traci grew up in Western PA (DuBois, PA) where she started her diving career back in the mid 70's and continued into the 80's and 90's. Currently, she lives in Royersford with her 3 cats Little Man, Amy & Callie. When she's away from the pool, she grooms dogs out of her home based shop and she also enjoys walking, camping and working in her yard.

Achievements: Here are some of Traci's achievements:

- DuBois Drakes - summer diving program at local pool
- DuBois YMCA diving
- DuBois High School diving
- West Chester University diving
- US High Diving team & stunt show

Philosophy of Coaching: “My goal for PVAC is to develop a competitive age group program while at the same time build a strong feeder program for our PV high school team. I look forward to working with and meeting everyone that is involved with PVAC for many seasons to come. Thank you for this opportunity!"

Carolyn Risell

Assistant Coach/Mini's Head Coach


Coaching Experience: Carolyn has been an assistant coach with Perk Valley Aquatic Club since 1998 and during this time has assisted with the pre-team. In the past, Carolyn has also taught swim lessons, coached Skippack Swim Team, and was a certified lifeguard at Skippack Pool.

Personal: Carolyn has two children, both graduates of PV High School and former PVAC swimmers. Son Matthew graduated from Penn College and daughter Laura graduated from Washington College. She resides in Skippack Township and has been involved in swimming since she was 6 years of age. In her swimming career  she swam for Perkiomen Valley Aquatic Club, Skippack Swim Team, Pottstown YMCA, and Methacton Aquatic Club.

Achievements: Carolyn has earned as Associates Degree in Human Services and currently works as a  Registered Medical Assistant for an Urgent Care. She is a PA State certified Emergency Medical Technician and also has current certifications in AHA, CPR, the Red Cross coaches’ safety course and USA coaches’ certification.

Philosophy of Coaching: “They say once you have experienced the sport of swimming, it’s in your blood and stays with you forever. A gold medal, friendship, teamwork, personal best, leadership and fun is what the sport is all about. I love swimming and get excited watching the athletes achieve goals that they set for themselves. Being here for several years, I have had the pleasure of watching several swimmers grow into a sport. I believe the sport of swimming teaches the swimmer a life lesson of working hard, and achieving rewarding results.”

Becky Strawbridge

Assistant Coach


Coaching Experience: Becky has been involved with teaching swim lessons and lifeguarding, since 2008 both at Perkiomen Valley and Upper Perkiomen Valley. She was one of the assistant coaches for the Upper Perkiomen Valley Summer Swim team in 2009 and 2010.

Personal: Becky is a 2014 graduate of Albright College where she studied Sociology. Prior to Albright, Becky was a graduate of Perkiomen Valley in 2010. Becky swam on the high school team for 4 years, played water polo her senior year, and was a member of PVAC. She began her swimming career at age 11 on the Upper Perkiomen swim team, going on to be a captain/coach her junior and senior year of high school.

Achievements: Becky received a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree at Albright College and currently works in King of Prussia as a travel consultant at Liberty Travel. She was captain of the Perkiomen Valley High School Team her senior year, as well as captain of the Upper Perkiomen summer swim team her junior/senior year.

Philosophy of Coaching: “Encourage my swimmers to work with me. I think that a partnership will ensure that we both reach the best possible versions of ourselves as swimmers, coaches, and people. If I can get one swimmer to look back and say, “wow – swimming taught me so much about life and made me who I am today”, my job is fulfilled. My three pillars to helping athletes achieve swimming success are: Technique, Setting Goals, and Growth”.

Tommy Todd

Assistant Coach


Coaching Experience: This will be my first time coaching PVAC and the USA teams. I taught swim lessons at PV High School for 5 years and Nine Oaks Swim Club for 8 years. I was assistant coach for Nine Oaks Swim Team in the summers of 2014 and 2017. I also worked as a lifeguard and assistant manager for Nine Oaks Swim Club from 2010 through 2016.

Personal: I graduated from Spring-Ford Area High School in 2013, where I swam and played lacrosse for 4 years. I graduated from Penn State University with a General Biology degree in 2017. In my 4 years, I swam for the Penn State Club Swim Team. I am a fun, positive and enthusiastic person, which helps to bring the best out of each swimmer. 

Achievements: In my senior year of high school, I was named Swim Team Captain. I was also named Academic All-American for Spring-Ford High School's Boys Lacrosse Team. In college, I qualified for the Penn State Club Swimming National Team all 4 years. I served>

Coaching Philosophy: I believe in maintaining a positive and encouraging environment throughout the entirety of the season. All athletes perform better when they know their coach genuinely cares about their goals. All goals matter equally, whether the goal is to break a record or simply finish a race. Enjoying the sport of swimming while working hard will produce the best results from every swimmer. 

Tom Hayes

Assistant Coach


Coaching Experience : Tom is currently in his third season coaching PVAC as well as the Perkiomen Valley High school swim team. He has been involved in the Skippack swim team for two years, both resulting in a championship season. Tom has recently been named the head coach for the Perkiomen Valley Men’s Water Polo Team.

Personal: Tom is a 2012 Graduate of Bloomsburg University where he swam four years for the Men’s Varsity swim team. Tom studied Secondary Education and Social Studies while attending Bloomsburg University. Prior to Bloomsburg, Tom was a Perkiomen Valley graduate who swam 4 years>

Achievements: Tom has earned a teaching degree and is certified to teach secondary level social studies as well as elementary to high school level special education. Tom is a three time PIAA district qualifier in the 200 and 500 yard freestyle and was captain of the PV high school swim team his senior year. While he was at Bloomsburg he was a four time PSAC qualifier in the 500, 1000 and the 1650 yard freestyle; Tom was captain of the men’s swim team his senior year.

Philosophy of Coaching: "Swimming is both a team and individual sport that focuses>

Ross Buckwalter

Assistant Coach


Coaching Experience: Coach Ross Buckwalter has acted as an assistant coach for the Perkiomen Valley High School swim team for several years and has provided swimming instruction as well as strength and conditioning implementation for the team. Ross had the opportunity to work as a volunteer coach for the University of Delaware swim team as well as a volunteer coach for Delaware’s Strength and Conditioning staff.  Locally, Ross acts as a Weightlifting and CrossFit coach at CrossFit Rage in Skippack.

Personal: Ross has lived in the area all of his life and is driven to give back to the community that has helped to develop him.  He continues to train as an athlete in the sport of weightlifting and to share his love of physical culture with anyone who will listen.

Achievements: As an athlete, Ross was a four year Division 1 athlete swimming for the University of Delaware. Ross has also participated in the 2012 Olympic Trials for Swimming and the 2015 and 2016 USA Weightlifting Nationals held in conjunction with the Olympic Team Trials. Ross has also earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Delaware.  As a coach, Ross continues to expand his education and has completed the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS-NSCA), the Advanced Sports Performance Coach (ASPC-USAW), the CrossFit Level 1, and has attended/completed a number of additional seminars and courses.

Coaching Philosophy: Ross’s philosophy is to encourage a journey towards lifelong physical endeavors. This sentiment can be summed up in the following saying: “People overestimate what can be done in a day and underestimate what can be done in a lifetime”. There is always something to be improved upon and there is always something that you can be doing to correct that.

Aaron Cancro

Assistant Coach


Coaching Experience: This will be Aaron’s first time coaching PVAC and the USA teams.  Aaron has been involved with teaching swim lessons and lifeguarding since 2007, starting at Laurelwood Swim Club.  He has helped Mitchell out in the past with the Tiger Sharks Swimming Clinic and he has also taught swim lessons at Bloomsburg University.

Personal: Aaron Graduated from Spring-Ford High School in 2011 where he swam all 4 years and played soccer for one year.  After high school Aaron went on to Bloomsburg University where he graduated with a degree in criminal Justice. Currently he works in Chester County at the Chester County Justice Center with the title of Pretrial Services Officer.  Other than his busy days at the courthouse Aaron likes to stay active.  He still plays pickup soccer with his little brother and is an avid follower of the calisthenics movement in fitness.

Achievements: Aaron has been swimming and competing since he was 6 years old. At Spring-Ford High School he was a 4 time PIAA District 1 qualifier and qualified for the PIAA State Championships his senior year.  He was also captain during his senior and still holds 4 team records.  While at Bloomsburg University, Aaron was a 4 time PSAC Conference Meet qualifier.  He was named 3 time First Team All-Conference, with a second place finish in his senior year in the 100 backstroke and a fourth place finish in the 200 back, and a 2 time Honorable Mention in the conference. He is a 4 time school record holder, one of those records still stands today, and he was the 2014 Akron Invitational 100 backstroke champion. In 2015 Aaron won the Dave Gibas Performance Award for the most outstanding men’s swimming performance of the year and he lead his team to second overall in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference in 2013 and 2014.

Philosophy of Coaching:  I know from the experience that swimming is a very competitive sport. But it took me awhile to figure why I was doing it in the first place. It was not until college that I figured out my biggest opponent and that was the clock. Kids now a days get too hung up on winning and losing. In swimming you are really only racing against yourself.  Each race you strive to lower your personal best or get that specific cut time.  In my time coaching I do not focus on winning and losing and I try my hardest to get people to realize that swimming fast is the best thing you can do. When you are swimming fast then you are really going to enjoy the sport.

Nolan Schneider

Assistant Coach


Coaching Experience – Nolan has taught swim lessons, private lessons, and assisted with the team>

Personal – Nolan graduated from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania with a BSBA in Accounting and a minor in Management. Nolan has just recently moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvania for his career in accounting after college. Nolan has been swimming>

Achievement’s – Nolan has been a long and short course YMCA Nationals qualifier from 8th grade to his senior year in high school and was a finalist in long course nationals. Nolan was a qualifier for the New Jersey High School Meet of Champions four years in a row and has swam in finals each year breaking pool and high school records throughout his career. Nolan still holds pool records at his New Jersey YMCA and Community Pool as well as various other pools in the area. Nolan swam>

Philosophy of coaching – After being involved my whole life in swimming I know first-hand the time consuming nature of the sport and believe that to know how to push yourself to your greatest limit is a balance of fun and dedication. Swimming up and down the pool starring at the black line doesn’t give the same rewards when you just go through the motions; it takes effort, focus, good friends, and lots of smiling and laughing through the hours of practice we endure to make the best swimmer you can be. Have fun, and love the sport, and you will succeed. 

Nicholas Pompizzi

Assistant Coach


Coaching Experience: Eagerly looking forward to the 2017-2018 winter season, this will be my second year coaching at Perkiomen Valley Aquatic Club. I have also had the privilege of being an assistant coach for Nine Oaks Swim team for the summers of 2016 and 2017. Prior to my coaching career, I taught swim lessons at Perkiomen Valley High School beginning at age 14 and have been lifeguarding since the age of 15.

Personal: From a very young age, I have been active in the swimming community. I swam for PVAC from 2005-2016, Markley Farms Swim Club from 2004-2009, Nine Oaks Swim Team from 2010-2016, and Tiger Sharks Swim Team from 2014-2016. I was a 2016 graduate of Spring-Ford High School and currently entering my second year as a Physical Therapy major at Penn State Abington. In my free time, I enjoy leading an active lifestyle and spending time with my friends and family.

Achievements: While in high school, I swam all four years and was named team captain my senior year. Since high school, I have been accepted into Thomas Jefferson University’s graduate school to study in their Doctorate of Physical Therapy program. Currently, I am a member of the Penn State Abington Honor’s college and made the Penn State Abington Dean’s List.

Coaching Philosophy: As a swimmer for the majority of my life, I recognize the dedication and commitment this sport demands. I believe that through the demanding hard work necessary in swimming, a swimmer not>

Caroline Hodgins

Assistant Coach


Coaching Experience: In the past I have coached Skippack swim team and have helped with PVAC through the stroke and turn programs. I also taught swim lessons at PV through the years. I coached the PV spring water polo team this past season as well.

Personal: I have been participating in the sport of swimming since the age of 7. I swam for PVAC and Skippack swim teams growing up. I have remained active in the sport through high school and college and I currently practice with the Masters swim team at the Spring Valley YMCA. I graduated from Bloomsburg University in 2016 with a degree in Exercise Science. I am currently pursuing my Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Temple University as a full-time student. I enjoy outdoor activities such as biking and hiking. I like to travel and see new places. I am almost always laughing and having a good time!

Achievements I swam and played water polo for Perkiomen Valley High School. For both sports, I was named Team Captain and Team MVP, and additionally earned All-State Honors. I graduated in 2012 and continued my swimming career at Towson University. My junior year of college I transferred to Bloomsburg University and continued to swim there. I was named Team Captain and Team MVP, and additionally earned the titles of NCAA All-American and Bloomsburg University’s Female Athlete of the Year. I graduated Cum Laude and have always been very dedicated to my studies.

Coaching Philosophy: My experience in the PVAC program growing up helped build me into the athlete and person that I am today. I am excited to have the opportunity to work with the program from the other side. In addition to challenging the swimmers to work hard with each set I think it is important to look for parts of technique that they can work on as individuals. I also believe it is a coach’s duty to help instill the values of being a good teammate and working toward/accomplishing goals.

Board of Directors

Beth Keenan



Bob McNabb

SAL Girls Representative


Pamela Sills



Patti Fiore



Kristy Crothers

Diving Representative


Jennifer Gutshall

USA Representative


Duane Gutshall

Vice President


Jessica Naessig

SAL Boys Representative


Kathleen Stengel



Swim Partners