Coaches & Directors
WOLF Coaching Staff

David Bentz

Head Coach


Even though most know Dave as a swimming coach, he began his relationship with the swimming world in the water. Swimming in high school, Dave found success in the 200 and 500 yard freestyle that took him to the University of Minnesota. Before graduating with a degree in physical education and child psychology, Dave had already started making his mark as a coach. He not only helped start the ABC Aquatic Club (Anoka, Blaine, and Coon Rapids), Dave also became manager and assistant coach at the Olympic Training Center (OTC). While working at the OTC, he gained invaluable experience working with multiple Olympians and Olympic coaches – notably George Haines, a seven-time coach of the Olympic team.

Dave took his knowledge of swimming and became head coach of the Bloomington Aquatic Club, and within his six-years turned the Bloomington Aquatic Club around from a struggling club to a championship program. Next, Dave teamed up with John Thomas to run the first ever coach owned club in Minnesota: Marauder Aquatic Club, winning age group titles, sending athletes to junior nationals, senior nationals, and the Olympic trials. With that level of success, it’s no surprise that Dave was recruited to coach at the newly opened University of Minnesota Natatorium with the Gopher Swim Club; his success continued with him sending swimmers to senior nationals, and taking one athlete from the state to the world level.

After an attempted retirement from the swimming world, the siren song of swimming brought Dave back to once again coach at Northern Lights Aquatics (formerly ABC Aquatic). Dave went on to found our Great Wolf Swim Team in 2004 and once again found himself master of rapid success, coaching athletes to achieve: state records, national records, Olympic trial qualifiers, NCAA individual titles, and a 13-year old NCAA record.

We are honored to have David Bentz as our founder, head coach, and living testimony of our mission to help all swimmers maximize their potential.

Zack Anthony Strumbell

Senior Coach


Zack grew up in Eveleth Minnesota. He learned to swim because his parents could not. He started taking lessons at the local YMCA, and then after watching his sister join the school swim team, he and his twin brother decided they would give it a try. He swam for Eveleth Gilbert High School under the direction of Minnesota Hall of Fame coach Gordy Rodby. While swimming in high school Zack earned 4 individual Minnesota state titles, was a 3 time Scholastic All-American, and a 2 time All-American. He also broke many high school records (which are still there today), the high school class A state record in the 200 freestyle, and his senior year was named Minnesota Swimmer of the Year.

Zack started his club swimming journey as a 13-14 year old for Dave Bentz at the Great Wolf Swim Team. While swimming for Great Wolf Zack was top 16 in the 50 free in the 13-14 age group, and along with his teammates also broke 2 national age group records for relays and re-wrote the record books for Minnesota club swimming in numerous relays for 13-14 and 15-16. He qualified for Junior Nationals as a 15 year old, and had the chance to travel around the country going to many national and international level meets. Zack went on to swim for California Polytechnic State University where he broke 3 school relay records and also the 100 butterfly record, and qualified for the U.S. Open the summer after freshman year.

He started his coaching journey in October of 2011 under the direction of Dave Bentz. He now is the assistant national coach. Zack has taken part in coaching swimmers who have ranked the top in the nation, set Minnesota club state records, achieved multiple Minnesota state titles, qualified for Junior Nationals, and was ranked number one in the country. Zack is fortunate enough to say he coaches for the team that taught him so much, not only about swimming, but about life. Zack is lucky to have such a great group of kids to work with and looks forward to what is possible in the future. “The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible”

John Thomas

Head Age Group Coach


Great Wolf Swim Team is honored to have a swim coach who began his career before the popularization of swimming goggles and the 25-yard competition pool, Coach John. Starting his career in the swimming world at St. Paul Highland Park High School, John learned of the elation standing on a podium can bring when he qualified and placed at the state meet.

John went on the swim with Gustavus Adolphus College, in one of the few remaining 20-yard pools and still with no goggles. Nevertheless, by the time John left with his degree in health and physical education, he had also earned the title of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) champion in the 50 free.

Success followed John into his coaching career. At Burnsville High School, he led his swimmers to state finals and coached the first high school swimmer to break two minutes in the 200 Individual Medley. At Mounds View Swim Club, John coached our very own Dave Bentz. After a respite from the swimming world, John returned to coach at the Bloomington Aquatic Club with the now Coach Dave. John also lent his talents to the Edina High School girls swimming, achieving: three state championships in five years, four consecutive 100 butterfly state championships, national high school record in 100 breast stroke, and aptly earning Coach of the Year. John then coached the Marauder Aquatic Club with similar success.

After a venture at the Saint Paul Hotel and the University Club in St. Paul, John found his way back to coaching alongside Dave with the Great Wolf Swim Team. With insistence on proper technique, race strategy, and “finding a way no one ever imagined,” John helps coach all of his swimmers to insurmountable success.

Chip Fechter

Age Group Coach


Blair Eckstrom

Age Group Coach


Growing up in Marshall, MN Blair was a part of the Marshall Meters Swim Club where his mother was a coach. He has been swimming and coaching ever since.

Before coaching for Great Wolf, Blair coached at Mounds View Swim Club, where he helped many age group swimmers reach state finals. He then moved to Northern Lights and Tsunami Swim Clubs. During this time, he had many swimmer win state titles and participate in Junior and Senior Nationals. Many of his swimmers have gone on to achieve division 1 college scholarships at top name universities.

Blair came to the Great Wolf Swim Team and loves to correct stroke mechanics and has a passion for teaching his swimmers to swim correctly. Blair loves to combine his knowledge and experience with his wit and humor.

Lana Yackel

Age Group Coach


Lana started swimming at the age of 10 1/2 for the Bloomington Aquatic Club. She started on the novice team and quickly moved up the ladder to the A team in less than a year. Her first Champ times were in the 50 free and the mile. Coach Dave came along when she was 13 and made her swim miles upon miles upon miles. She had mostly Zone times throughout her age group experience and was ranked top 16 in the nation in her distant events. 

Lana qualified for the State Meet all 3 years swimming for Burnsville High School back in 1981-1984. She placed in the top 8 in each event and swam the butterfly leg, her junior year, on the 200 Medley Relay with her sister, Lisa, breaking the record for a championship win. Lana also achieved All American Status. Her swimming career continued at Saint Catherine's for one year, and a season at Oral Roberts University. She began teaching private swimming lessons at the age of 21, worked for Flagship Athletic Club in Eden Prairie, Council Oaks Learning Center in Oklahoma and LifeTime Fitness in Champlin and Fridley. She also assisted the Bloomington Aquatic Club, Northern Lights Aquatics and the Maple Grove Muskies. 

Lana coached the Pups and Trackers from 2004-2008 and returned in 2015 after her kids graduated from High School. She is a wife, mom of five adult children, grandma and a group fitness instructor/personal trainer for the past 31 years. She loves working with the Pups and Trackers and says, "It's bitter sweet when I have to let my swimmers move to the Hunters group because I feel like they're my own!"

Amy Reed-Hall

Age Group Coach


Amy started swimming competitive at age 10 for the Saint Paul Swim Club.  Prior to joining the team, she had never swum a lap or even passed beginner level swimming lessons.  After an interesting first year, she began to master the four strokes.  As her swimming progressed she became a nationally ranked swimmer in multiple events, won many age group titles and broke several state records.  As a club swimmer she qualified for junior nationals, senior nationals and went to the Olympic trials in 1984 in Indianapolis Indiana. 

Amy’s high school career began in eight grade when she joined Johnson High School’s swim team and went to state in the 50 freestyle placing 2nd in finals.  From 9th grade through 12th she won the 100 butterfly state titles and held the state record for over a decade.   Overall, she achieved 5 first place finishes, 4 second place finishes and was a high school All-American.

After graduating high school Amy attended Arizona State University on a swimming scholarship.  There she specialized in the 100 and 200 butterfly and freestyle sprints.  While at ASU she qualified for NCAA’s in both individual events and relays. 

In January 2013, her daughter joined the Great Wolf Swim Team and Amy eventually made her way onto the pool deck to coach.  She is excited about the energy the age group swimmers have and is thrilled to be working alongside some of the best coaches in USA swimming.  

Whitney Clark

Age Group Coach