Coaches and Staff
Coaches and Staff

Jeff Rodriguez

Head Coach / CEO


Jeff Rodriguez is in his 20th year with the Edina Swim Club.  As Head Coach, Jeff is responsible for the senior program and the overall vision and success of the club, meanwhile, training each senior swimmer to their highest level.

His coaching experience includes developing athletes at all levels. Jeff started within the Edina program in 1997 as an assistant coach and became lead age group coach in 1998.  As age group coach in 1998, 1999, 2000, Jeff led Edina’s Age Group program to three consecutive state Championships. Jeff became Head Coach in 2000 and currently coaches the Silver, Gold and National groups.  Under his leadership, ESC has consistently placed in the top 3 at the Minnesota Championships and has won over 70 plus Top 2 age group awards at the state level.

In the past 10 years, Jeff has coached more than 60 athletes who have competed at the USA and NCSA Junior National Championships and coached swimmers at the Olympic Trials and US Open in 2012 and 2016.  Athletes on the Edina Senior and National Teams regularly place on USA Swimming's top 10 lists and have set over 60 numerous MN state records and 200 plus ESC club records. Jeff was named Coach of the Year in 2010 and 2011, selected as Staff for USA National Select Camp in 2010 and attended in 2014. He was also selected as staff for the USA Central Zone Select Camp in 2015.  In 2016, coach Jeff was nominated for Fitter and Faster Age Group Coach of the year for his age group successes. 

Jeff's coaching philosophy focuses on being a well-rounded athlete and he enjoys seeing athletes continue swimming into the next phase of their careers. He has a strong belief there is a place for everyone on a team and swimming is a lifetime sport.

As an athlete himself, Jeff competed at the Division 1 level for University of Minnesota in 1994-1998.  He was a member of the Big Ten Championship Team in 1996 that won the first championship in over 70 years to start a new tradition for the Gophers.  Jeff came away from his college career being a two time Big Ten Champion (team), received Jerry McCual Award, two time Iron Fish Award, Four time Letter “M” Winner, Hardest Worker and Most Improved and a Member of the Dean’s List and 3.0 club. His events were 200 Breast, 200IM and 400IM during the Big Ten and at the National level.  Coach Jeff earned a Bachelor of Education in Kinesiology with minors in Psychology, Spanish and Coaching from the University of Minnesota.

Away from the pool, Jeff enjoys traveling all over the world and stays active with exercise.

Nicole Helmen-Hendricks

Head Age Group Coach


Nicole has 37 combined years of competitive swimming and professional coaching experience. Through-out her professional coaching career she has developed athletes that have accomplished the following:

  • 100+ State/Junior Olympic Champions/Far Western Champions/Zone Champions combined
  • 500+ State/Junior Olympic Qualifiers
  • 100+ Club Records/LSC Records/Junior Olympic Records/Meet Records
  • 20+ National Rankings
  • 10 All American Consideration Times
  • 4 Olympic Trial Qualifiers

Coaching Experience:

2016-present: Head Age Group Coach -Edina Swim Club
2014-2016: Lead Age Group Coach/Assistant Senior Coach – Edina Swim Club
2004-2014 Head Age Group Coach – San Diego, CA
1999-2001 Head Girls High School Coach – Mounds View, MN
1999-2001 Assistant Age Group/Senior Coach – Burnsville, MN
1998-1999 Assistant Age Group/Senior Coach- Edina Swim Club
1996-1998 Head Assistant Coach/Interim Head Coach – Mounds View, MN

Nicole was awarded Section Coach of the year in 2000 and 2001. In 2007, as Head Age Group Coach in San Diego, CA, she was awarded Age Group Coach of the Year from the American Swim Coaches Association.           

Nicole grew up swimming with Burnsville Swim Club and went on to swim for St Olaf College.  She retired from the United States Navy in 2014.

Rocky O'Neill

Head Age Group Coach


Rocky O’Neill- ASCA Level 5 Coach

Rocky grew up swimming with the Midway YMCA team in Saint Paul and the Roseville Swim Club (which later became STAR). He Swam at Kellogg High School and Hamline University. He began coaching in 1981 and became Head Coach of the Burnsville Swim Club in 1985 (which became Black Dog Swimming in 2003). While coaching at Burnsville he produced nearly 100 High School All Americans, dozens of Junior National participants, tens of Senior National swimmers and 8 Olympic Trial qualifiers.His teams at Burnsville won several Age Group State championships, 5 Senior State championships, and in 2003 dethroned the Foxjet Dynasty by winning the Over All State Championship.

Wojciech Palczewski

Lead Developmental Coach


Wojtek began coaching with the Gators in the summer of 2014. He comes from Poland where he swam from age 7 through all elementary, middle and high school. He graduated from the University of Wroclaw, with a degree in Physical Education and Coaching.  His entire working career has been connected with swimming.  He worked as instructor and coach for the  Vulcans Swim Club Lincoln in England for 2 years. He then opened and managed his own swim school for kids age 2 and over, before coming to America in 2013.  He is excited to bring his extensive experience in swimming and personal training to the team. Wojtek directs the 8 and under swimmers on our team and directly leads the Gator 1 and Gator 3 groups.

Wojtek is a husband and father of 3 young kids, and he loves Minnesota even during the winter time.

James Christenson

Lead Age Group Prep & Age Group Bronze


James joined the Gators during the Spring 2017 season. A Hoosier native, he grew up swimming with the Noblesville Swim Club in central Indiana. After a successful four years at the Noblesville High School swim team, he went on to swim Division I with the Valparaiso Crusaders. He majored in Spanish, German and Intl' Business and studied French, Biology and Actuarial Science.
James coached for the Mako Swim Team in northern Indiana from 2013-2014 and continues a life long track of teaching swim lessons. Here in Minnesota, he coaches the Edina Swim Club Age Group Prep and Bronze groups, co-coaches Masters, works as a Development Advisor for Pinwheel Advisors, and pursues higher education.
James moved to Minnesota in October of 2016. Away from work, he can be found playing french horn for the local church, traveling, or acclimating painfully slow to Minnesota during the winter time.

John G Wood

Lead Senior Prep/Bronze


I come from a swim oriented family and grew up swimming for Star Swim Club in St. Paul.  A multisport athlete, I pursued a hockey career through college and after graduating rediscovered my passion for the sport of swimming. I began coaching for Lifetime Athletic in 2015 where I grew the St. Louis Park location from a swim lesson based program to a competitive swim team within 6 months.  In Early 2017 I made the move to Edina and love what I do here!

Aside from coaching at Edina, I am the assistant women’s coach, and head men’s coach at Armstrong High School in Robbinsdale.  Alongside the sport of swimming, I pursue my passion for health and fitness through my own training and the personal training of various individuals varying from elite athletes to those new to the fitness lifestyle. 

Taylor Renee Bacon



This is Taylor’s first year with the Edina swim club, although the pool has always been a second home to her. She began competitively swimming with a club team in Mankato at the age of 6. Her swimming career continued into high school where she earned All American honors. After constant pain while swimming, due to an injury she opted not to swim in college.

For the last five years, Taylor has coached with multiple programs both in Mankato and in the Twin Cities. She has worked developing and training kids at various levels including; age group kids for a club team in Mankato and High School boys at Mankato East. Taylor loves helping kids fall in love with the sport of swimming and coaching in a way that allows swimming to be a lifelong passion.

Taylor has her B.S. in Marketing and works during the day for a company in Minnetonka. When she’s not working or coaching, she enjoys being outside and still fuels her desire to compete by running both half and full marathons.

Andrea O'Brien



Andrea grew up swimming for Edina Swim Club from the ages of
7-18 and was coached by Coach Jeff. She also swam on the Edina High
School girls team from 8th to 12th grade. After graduating from high
school, Andrea went on to swim for the Minnesota Gophers. She was a
four year letter winner and team captain her senior year. She was also
a part of the Gophers team that won the Big Ten title in 2008.

Andrea works in recruiting for General Mills. She also enjoys biking, competing in triathlons, and reading.

Shannon Ricco



Originally from the suburbs of a Chicago, Shannon began swimming at the age of six, and continued on through four years at the Division I level at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. At UWGB, her main events included 200 Free, 500 Free, 400 IM, and 200 butterfly. She was a 6x UWGB record holder, 4x Horizon League Champion, and 2x Horizon League record holder.

Shannon began her coaching career in 2011, working with swimmers ages 6-17 in WI, and later moved to AZ where she coached with Scottsdale Aquatic Club, working both water and dry land training. 
When Shannon isn’t coaching, she enjoys running, being outdoors, and being a mom to her new daughter, Elliott. 

Spencer Rodriguez



Spencer competed for a little more than 15 years, and coached for 8 years.  She grew up in the north metro and swam for The Great Wolf Swim Team, until going to college at The University at Buffalo-New York. While swimming for UB, Spencer was a 7X Division 1 MAC conference champion, 3X UB school record holder, a MAC conference record holder, and her senior year she was awarded the “MAC Outstanding Senior Swimmer; Class of 2015”.  Spencer’s main events were the 400 IM, 200 IM, 200 Freestyle, 500 Freestyle, 1000 Freestyle, 100 Freestyle, 1650 Freestyle, and basically the “Go To” team mate when points were needed.

Spencer’s swim coaching experience ranges from beginners just learning to swim to training high- intensity, competitive swimmers for racing. Spencer started coaching with Swim America swim lessons at an early age, moved on to help with The Great Wolf Swim Team, and then was an Assistant Coach for Coon Rapids High School boys’ and girls’ teams. Spencer was also a camp counselor every year for UB’s college summer swim camps. Spencer’s coaching philosophy meshes well with the Edina Swim Club’s, in the aspect of swimming being a lifelong sport. There are so many wonderful life lessons and friendships the sport of swimming has to offer, if you just open yourself up to them.

Spencer currently works for Katun Corporation in their New Product Development Department.

When she is not working, or coaching, you can find her on her bicycle, “Blue Streak Blitzen”, or keeping up with the latest fashion trends.

Isaac Rwenzo



Isaac has been coaching for the Gators for the last 3 years and has enjoyed helping swimmers of all ages reach their highest potential.

Isaac is Rwandan, he grew up in Jinja, Uganda and started swimming as a young boy.  He began swimming competitively at age 12.  In his swimming career, he competed for the country of Uganda at the All Africa Games and the World Championships in Italy in 2005.  He graduated with a B.S. degree in Sports Science from United States University in Nairobi, Kenya. 

Over the last 13 years Isaac has taught swimming to children as young as 3 years old all the way up to adult athletes.  He was the Head Coach for the International School of Uganda Swim Team winning 8 conference championships.  In 2013 Isaac became the Athletic Director/PE Teacher at GEMS Cambridge International School in Kampala, Uganda.  Isaac started a swim team at the school in 2013.  By 2015, GEMS ranked 3rd among all international schools in Uganda beating his former ISU team.

Since 2007, Isaac served as Uganda’s National Swimming Head Coach.  He has coached athletes to various World Championship games, Common Wealth Games, All Africa Games and the Youth Olympics.  In 2012, one of his swimmers qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.  Isaac was chosen as the Ugandan Head Swimming Coach for the 2012 Olympics. 

Isaac is married and lives in Prior Lake and enjoys being outside and being in the water. 

Nora Stauber



Nora Stauber joined the Edina staff in May 2016 and has been involved in swimming for almost 15 years as a club swimmer, high school swimmer, college swimmer and coach.

Growing up in Hermantown, MN, she swam with North Shore Swim Club and then Proctor-Hermantown High school where she was a 2-time state qualifier and team captain her senior season. Following her high school career, Nora swam for the Minnesota State University, Mankato Mavericks where she was a 4-time Conference Team member and team captain her senior season. While swimming for the Mavericks, Nora also taught swim lessons, coached club, and was a camp counselor with the Maverick Swim Lesson Program. After graduating from MSU with a degree in Sport Management, she went back up North to coach at the Duluth Area Family YMCA and work in the University of Minnesota Duluth Athletic Department. 

In June 2015, Nora began pursuing her Master’s Degree in Leadership at Augsburg College where she also serves as the Swim and Dive coach. She currently resides in Wayzata, MN.

Jake Stodolka



Coach Jake Stodolka started with Edina Swim Club for the Long Course season in 2017.  He is a 2009 graduate of St. John’s University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Theology.  He started his professional career in Ministry and Social Work.  Jake has been working in the swimming industry since 2008 as an instructor and coach. In 2016 he decided to take a break from the world of competitive swimming, but was earning to get back to the pool the day he stopped.

Coach Jake is an ASCA Level 2 Certified Coach, Certified Pool Operator, and American Red Cross Lifeguard.  His goal in coaching is to nurture the athlete both in and out of the pool and to create a positive environment.

He is excited to work for Edina for its reputation as the premier swim club in the state of Minnesota and their staff that shares his values!

Nick Wilkerson



This is Nick's first year coaching for the Gators after coaching kids of all ages for Wayzata Country Club.  Nick swam for the Gators for nine years and finished his swimming career at St. Olaf College, specializing in breaststroke and the 200 I.M..

After nine years of benefiting from the sport, Nick hopes to help foster a love of swimming and healthy competition in the next generation.  Nick hopes that he can pay forward what he gained from the sport: from the community and friends gained, to the more obvious physical benefits, to the mentality conducive to success in and out of the pool.

Outside the pool Nick enjoys reading science fiction, playing video games, exercising, and psychology.

Katy Vandam



Katy has been coaching for over 10 years and swimming for over 20 years. She started club swimming in Florida and swam for Richfield Swim Club when she moved to Minneapolis as a kid. Then swam at South High School in Minneapolis and then at the University of New Mexico. Katy is still swimming and competing as a masters swimmer!
Katy is currently the girls and boys head coach at Highland High School in St. Paul. Before starting at Highland and now assisting at Edina she coached Masters for Lifetime Fitness and Hopkins. She started her coaching career right out of college as a head coach for a local high school in Albuquerque, as well as summer country club coaching.
She really loves being around the water and watching the love and passion for swimming grow. When she isn't in the pool swimming or at the pool coaching you can find her in St. Paul doing flying trapeze!

Julie McCarthy

Team Administrator


Julie grew up in Wayzata and had a short swimming career at the Wayzata Country Club from ages 7-9. She graduated from Breck School in 1987. She spent her college years out in Oneonta, NY at Hartwick College with a major in Psychology. After college, she moved to Seattle, WA and worked in the stock brokerage industry. 1994 brought her back to Wayzata and she began working in her families business of manufacturing and selling electric cattle prods. While sales of cattle prods took her all around the country, she meet her husband, Pete, in Fargo, ND at a trade show. They now have 4 kids, all who swim with the Edina Swim Club. Julie began working at the Edina Swim Club in January of 2012.