Competitive Aquatics Director/Head Coach
Chris Karelus began swimming with FSPY in 1993 as a 13-year-old who
had just moved from Poland with his family because of his
father’s job. Chris continued his swim career at the
University of Delaware. During breaks from college, he worked
at FSPY as a part time coach. He became the head coach of FSPY in
2010 and has consistently promoted a sense of family and teamwork.
Coach Karelus has always maintained a “Team First”
mantra. When he won the 2016 Nationals Coach of the Meet Award at
Long Course YMCA Nationals, he was quick to share the recognition
with his swimmers and fellow coaches. “It is not an
individual award,” reflected Chris. To him, it recognized the
collective effort and spirit of the entire Y community, which he
strives to instill in his fellow coaches and swimmers.
Assistant Head Coach
Gillian began her swimming career at the Central Queens YMCA in
New York—in a 20-yard, four-lane pool with a lion’s
head fountain in the shallow end. After graduating from Columbia
University, she worked in publishing for several years in the
editorial departments of Vanity Fair and GQ
magazines. In 1992, she began working at the Fanwood Scotch Plains
YMCA in the Aquatics department as a swim lesson instructor and
lifeguard. Her children (Ryan, David and Lindsay) were all swimmers
on the FSPY team, and their great experiences as part of FSPY made
her excited to join the coaching staff in 2003.
In working with FSPY’s youngest swimmers, it isGillian's
goal to both instruct and challenge, while keeping the practice
atmosphere relaxed and supportive. She believes strongly in the Y
core values of respect, responsibility, honesty and caring, and
strives to reinforce them to all her practice groups. She knows
from experience that the support and friendship that come with
being part of the FSPY family can be very valuable on many
different levels to every swimmer and parent on the team.
Gillian speaks French, has traveled to South Africa many times,
and can say “give me a sandwich please” in Afrikaans.
Her favorite activity is snorkeling (even though she has been stung
by fire coral and chased by a barracuda), and she loves finding
places where you cannot hear any man-made sounds. She is very
grateful to be married to a wonderful manwho totally supports
her career as a coach!
Swimming has been a big part of Allie’s life since she was
very young. Her swim team career began at the Highland Swim Club
when she was 6 years old, and she swam there every summer for 13
years. At 10, she joined the FSPY swim team and began swimming
year-round. She swam with FSPY throughout high school and was also
a member of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School team for 4 years.
After graduating high school, she attended Susquehanna University
and was a member of the Crusaders’ varsity swim team.
When she was 17, Allie began her coaching career at Highland
Swim Club where she was an assistant coach for 5 years. After
graduating college, she joined the coaching staff at FSPY. The
coaches and teammates that Allie has worked with throughout her
life have made a huge impact on her life, and, as a coach for the
team she once swam for, she hopes to do the same, as she
shares the passion she has for swimming with the FSPY family.
Allie has also been teaching Pre-K in North Plainfield since
2006 and recently completed graduate school earning her
Masters’ Degree in Special Education. When she is not
teaching or coaching, she enjoys spending time with family and
friends. After spending a month in Australia last summer visiting
family, she gained a love for traveling and she is currently
planning her next big adventure!
Linda joined FSPY as a swimmer when she was 8, swimming there
until she was 13 when she became part of the Scotch Plains Fanwood
High School swim team. She joined the coaching staff in 2009,
working with the senior swimmers on dry-land and strength training.
Now she is involved with in-water training as well as general
fitness training. Her aim as a coach is to encourage swimmers
to love the sport, and to assist them in developing and achieving
their own personal goals. In addition to coaching, Linda is also a
swim instructor, group fitness instructor and personal trainer at
FSPY, enjoying both the physical and mental aspects of training.
She likes music, games, robots and ice cream, and her favorite
animal is the octopus.
Aaron was born and raised in Washington, DC. He began his
swimming career as a member of the DC Department of Recreation
Summer League Swim Program at the age of 9, although he actually
learned to swim at the Christopher
Columbus Memorial Fountain at Union Station, which was
often used as a cooling off spot for DC youth in the early
1970’s. He attended DC Public schools and was a member
of the National Youth Sports Program (NYSP) at the University of
the District of Columbia during the summers. This is where he
learned competitive swim techniques and met his high-school swim
coach and life-long mentor, Coach Stanley M. Gainor. Under Coach
Gainor’s guidance, Aaron became a standout member of the
Cardozo Senior High School swim team whose motto was “Books
and Chlorine,” reflecting the program’s mission to
provide access to advanced education through competitive swimming.
Aaron attended Penn State for one year, after which he
transferred to The Tennessee State University where he became a
member of the TSU “Tiger Sharks” Swim Team, was voted
team captain twice and was the athlete with the highest grade-point
average in all sports for two years. He began his career as a
Software Engineer with Bell Communications Research in 1990, and
has continued to work in the telecommunications industry for more
than 21 years.
Since graduating college, Aaron has continued to be involved
with competitive swimming. He has been a member of the NJ State
Master’s Swim Program as both a swimmer and a coach since
1992; he has coached at several competitive swim camps including
Mary T. Meagher’s Swim Camp and the “Arete” Swim
Camp at Rutgers University. In 2000, he began working at the
Fanwood Scotch-Plains YMCA as an Assistant Age-Group Swim Coach.
Aaron believes that the YMCA Core Values, his passion for the sport
of swimming, and his love for enhancing the lives of young people
through competitive swimming serve as his motivation as a swim
coach. His personal mission is “2 Encourage, 2 Enlighten, and
2 Inspire”. In 2006, the “Aaron T. Moore Leadership
Award” was named in honor of his contributions to the FSPY
Swim Program. This award is presented annually to the FSPY Swim
Team member who demonstrates the highest qualities of leadership
throughout the year. Aaron credits this honorary distinction to the
influence of his high school swim coach and mentor, Stanley Gainor,
a man whose impact has forever changed his life for the better.
Aaron lives in Plainfield, NJ. He is married and has 4 children.
He enjoys biking, art, music, travelling, sports, philosophy, being
active, and good sci-fi. His favorite activity is swimming.
Sara was a competitive swimmer in high school, and has always
kept up with her swimming as fitness. She was a swim Coach at the
Scotch Plains JCC for two seasons, 2000/1-2001/2. She took a
hiatus when her 4th boy was born in ’02, then
joined the SPF YMCA in ’08 co-teaching Parent/Child and
Perch. Currently Sara still teaches Parent/Child and
Perch and Little Fish, adult beginners and Kinderwrap. As a
matter of fact, many of the kids in the 8 and under were in her
previous classes (and some of the older swim team members
Sara also keeps up with the adult swimming community as
Editor/Designer of the NJ Masters newsletter The
Fastlane and is also a NJ Masters Volunteer Board member.
Sara lives in Fanwood with her husband Charles, her 4 boys (from
junior in college to Park Middle) and two dogs.
Anne is excited to be a part of the FSPY team once again.
She started her swimming career at FSPY, swimming for the team from
the age of 8 years old through high school, competing at YMCA
Nationals three years during her FSPY career. In the summers,
Anne swam as a Willow Grove Barracuda and was their head coach for
several years. She continued swimming at Bucknell University,
before returning to Scotch Plains after college. Anne has
been able to stay connected with the FSPY swim team over the past 9
years through her youngest son Matthew, who has been a Piranha
since 2005. In addition to her coaching role at the Y, she
also currently teaches both pre-school and adult swim lessons.
Anne also works as a kindergarten teacher’s aide and
part time bookkeeper. She is president of the Union County
Outdoor Swim League and serves on the Board of Directors for Willow
Grove Swim Club and the Wesley Hall School. Her spare time is
spent relaxing on the beach, baking in her kitchen and spending
time in her garden.
Shane joined FSPY in September, 2016. He started his swim
career at the Metuchen-Edison YMCA (MEY) and later swam for the
College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ. 2017 marks Shane’s
4th year as a swim coach. In addition to coaching
FSPY, Shane is also the head swim coach for the middle and high
school teams at Wardlaw-Hartridge School in Edison, NJ.
Shane’s interests outside the pool include warm weather,
working out and cooking.
Coach Shane says “I coach not only because swimming has
been a part of my life since I was 5 years old, but also because I
was fortunate to have an amazing coach (Ryan Patterson) growing up
and I hope to help my swimmers in and out of the pool like she did
Kelsey joined FSPY in September, 2016. She started her
swim career at the Metuchen-Edison YMCA (MEY) and swam there from 5
to 18 years old. She later swam for Montclair State
University in Montclair, NJ. 2017 marks Kelsey’s
5th year as a swim coach, having coached at MEY for 3
years prior to FSPY.
Kelsey is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in
school counseling from Montclair State University and will start
practicum at Colonia High School in the Fall 2017. She
is also the head coach for the Metuchen Municipal Pool summer team
and substitute teaches in the Metuchen school district.
Outside the pool, Kelsey enjoys running and working out. She
also enjoys going to the beach and spending time with family and
Coach Kelsey says, “Swimming is so challenging, yet so
rewarding and I definitely wouldn't be the person I am today
without it. I learned so much both in and out of the pool from my
coaches and teammates and made memories that will last a lifetime.
As a coach, I hope to help swimmers not only learn about the sport
but themselves too and to have the same positive experiences I
Alma B Lopez-Holder
Alma joined FSPY in September 2017. She started her swim
career on the SwimAtlanta Swim Team in Atlanta, Georgia. She
later received a scholarship to swim at Saint Peter's University in
Jersey City, NJ. After college, she was a swim instructor at
SwimAtlanta for about 9 years and also coached at a summer league
team back in Georgia called River Oak Rapids for 3 years.
Locally, she coached at Bayonne High School for 1 year.
In addition to coaching for FSPY, during the day Alma is a
Spanish teacher in Berkeley Heights. Outside of swimming,
Alma enjoys music, golfing, running and dance. Her hobbies include
watching football, reading and writing.
Coach Alma says “I love to see athletes grow as
individuals and student-athletes. My motivation comes from the
small success I had with the sport, and I hope to somehow
reflect that into the generations today, teaching the athletes that
anything is possible with hard work and dedication. I want to see
athletes be successful and enjoy all the opportunities that are
available to them that they may not know about.”
Michael J Spark