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Coaches & Directors

We are here to support your needs. If your questions are related to workouts, meets, events, goal setting, and other swimming related needs, please contact one of the coaches. For all questions related to administrative issues, such as fees, safety, or policy issues, please contact the Head Coach.

Coaching Staff

Keira Cruz

Head Coach/Senior 1 Coach

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Keira is an American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA) Level 5 coach with a long history as a swimmer and coach at Lakeland Hills YMCA. She began swimming at LHY at age 5 and over the years became a five-time LHY National Team qualifier and Top 16 scorer at Nationals.  She went on to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where she earned a swimming scholarship and served as a team captain for two years. After earning her degree in Sport Management, she returned to Lakeland as a member of the coaching staff working with all age groups. In 1996, Keira took over as Head Coach of LHY Swimming. Since then, the program has produced many YMCA National, Junior National, and Senior National qualifiers. Keira has also coached several individual and relay YMCA National Champions, several Olympic Trials qualifiers, and Junior National Champions. She is the President of the Northern New Jersey YMCA Swim League. Keira was elected to the YMCA National Coaches Committee in 2007 and currently is serving her 3rd term.  She is very proud of the winning tradition and long history of being a reputable program that Lakeland Hills swimming has become. The team has won many YMCA state and regional titles, including a full sweep in 2000 & 2005.

Some of Keira’s coaching highlights include: winning YMCA National Short Course Coach of the Meet in 2011; YMCA National Short Course Coach of the Year in 2006; LHY Girls team earning 7th at 2012 Y Nationals; LHY Boys team earning 2nd at 2005 & 2012 Y Nationals; LHY team earning 4th place combined points at Y Nationals in 2012; coaching 5 YMCA National relay champions in 2003, 2005, 2017; placing 15 swimmers over the years in the YMCA National Altitude Training Camp in Colorado Springs; coaching Abby Fisher & Luke Papendick to the 2012 Olympic Trials; coaching Brian Elko to the 2000 Olympic Trials in the 100 Back; coaching Luke Papendick to a USA Swimming Junior National title in the 100 back; coaching Abby Fisher to a YMCA National title in the 200 breaststroke; coaching Jesse Cohen to a YMCA National title in the 400IM; coaching Gary Grant to six YMCA National Titles; coaching Michael Gross to a YMCA National title in the 100 back; coach of the 2000 National YMCA Altitude Training Camp; working with Mark Schubert and Eddie Reese at the Longhorn Swim Camp in Texas; coach of three New Jersey Zone Teams; coach of the USA Swimming National Age Group Camp Staff for two years; published article in the ASCA Newsletter about the college scholarship search process.

Sara Bias

Super Squad Coach

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Sara began swimming for Cedar Lake in Denville at age 5, swam for LHY for 11 years, Morris Knolls for 4, and continued her swimming career with Gettysburg College as a distance Freestyler and 200 Butterflyer. 

Sara has a B.A. in Political Science/Public Policy from Gettysburg, and a Masters in Secondary Education from Johns Hopkins University. She currently teaches 9th Grade Writing at KIPP: Newark Collegiate Academy in Newark, NJ. She also is currently the Head Coach at Smoke Rise Swim Team in Kinnelon, NJ. 

Sara has been coaching seasonally with LHY for the last 4 years, then assisted Sean with the 13/olders, and now will be assisting Carrie with the Super Squad groups. She has a passion for working with high school students as a teacher. Sara hopes to continue instilling values of hard work, dedication, time management and growth mindset in LHY swimmers, which are traits that helped her become successful in her life post Lakeland Hills. 

 

Carrie Dickey

Super Squad Head Coach

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Carrie started swimming for LHY when she was 8 years old. She was a Team Record holder and member of the National Team for 6 years. She is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire where she received an athletic scholarship in swimming. She was both a member and captain of the Swimming and Diving team and ECAC qualifier.

Currently, she enjoys competing in ocean swims and triathlons. She is excited to be working with the kids and helping them to achieve their goals in and out of the pool.

Matt Elko

Senior 2 Coach

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Matt grew up swimming on Lakeland Hills and knows about its tradition. He is a former LHY National Team member, YMCA National champion, and current team relay record holder. He came back to Lakeland after coaching at the FISH where he assisted Coach Ray Benecki in the training of World Record holder Kate Ziegler. He started at the FISH February 2007 as an assistant coach and was promoted to Head Senior Coach after 2 months. He has always been particularly interested in coaching swimming, the history that goes behind it, and learning as much as he can about the sport. Matt earned a B.S. Ed. degree in Health and Physical Education at George Mason University. He swam for four years at GMU under Head Coach Peter Ward. Matt coached at the Auburn Swim Camp and at the National Distance Camp in Colorado Springs during the summer of 2007.

Matt’s swimmers have achieved USA swimming top ten list rankings including a number 1 ranking, USA swimming’s All-Time top 100 swims, YMCA top ten list, NJ Swimming records, and multiple individual Lakeland Hills team records.  He guided Ingrid Shu to number 1 on USA swimming’s 2010-2011 IMX rankings.  Matt continuously strives to help his swimmers reach their next level of swimming while preparing them to be successful at that level.  Matt currently is an ASCA Level 3 certified coach.

Kristin King

Age Group 5 Coach

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I began swimming competitively for Indian Lake at age 5. I went on to swim for LHY for 12 years. I was a member of the 2008 National Team. After LHY, I went on to swim for the College of Saint Elizabeth, where I graduated with degrees in biology and psychology. I am certified as a personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. In addition to coaching, I work at the Y as a fitness instructor and a swim lesson instructor. I am also the owner-operator of Krisleigh Kreations. I am happy to be back at the Y doing what I love and hope to pass on my love for swimming to our 8and unders. 

 

Dave Leshnower

Age Group 2 Coach

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Dave’s coaching philosophy focuses upon the individual athlete’s journey toward attaining his/her goals.  LHY swimmers will develop self-worth and confidence in their abilities with proper guidance through education and development of technical skills.  The team experiences in Dave’s groups include a focus on: work ethic, personal motivation, individual and team responsibility, honesty, and self-discipline, while conducting themselves with exceptional character, integrity, and team unity.  Dave’s intense love for the sport of swimming can be seen through his enthusiasm on the pool deck and in his educational approach toward the development of young athletes.  Dave’s coaching experience at LHY has ranged from Stroke Clinic through Age Group 2, and Junior 1 through Senior 2.  He currently coaches the swimmers in Age Groups 2 & 3.

In addition to his work at LHY, he has been the Head Coach of the Mountain Lakes High School men’s and women’s swim teams for 15 seasons. The men’s team has won 5 NJ Public B State Titles, and 7 county championships. In 2007, the men’s team set the NJ State Record for the most consecutive relay championships with nine.  Dave was named 2007 Star-Ledger State and NFHS Regional Coach of the Year.  The women’s team has been to the NJ State Playoffs 13 of 15 seasons winning 8 sectional titles (NJ State Final 4 eight times and runner’s up 4 times) to go along with 6 county titles as well.   Dave’s high school teams have also boasted 13 high school All-Americans during his tenure.

Also of note, Dave has coached the Cruiser Club in Sparta for the past two summers and has developed it into a very successful summer age group swim program that embodies his philosophies and family approach to youth sports. Prior to that, he coached the Mountain Lakes Summer Team for 10 very successful years.

“The world of sports reveals many heroes.  So does every day life.  It takes courage to grow up and reach your full potential.”

Sean McCrudden

Senior 3 & 4 Coach

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Sean swam for Lakeland Hills YMCA for 13 years and became a two time national qualifier. He went on to swim for Fordham University where he was captain his senior year. Sean graduated from Fordham with a marketing degree.  He is now a Special Education teacher at Roosevelt Middle School in West Orange. He coaches the Shongum Lake Swim Team in the summer. During the 2004-2005 HS season, Sean assisted Dave Leshnower with the Mountain Lakes HS team which the boys won the Public B State Title. Previously, he has also coached at Lakeland for three summers and taught stroke clinic while in college. Sean is eager to learn and very enthusiastic about coaching. He is a great asset to the coaching staff.

James Milone

Senior Coach

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James began swimming competitively for Fayson Lakes at 8 years old, and after stops at Pirates and MCY, swam for LHY through high school.  He then went on to swim at TCNJ where he graduated with a degree in political science.  In addition to coaching, James works as a paralegal at a personal injury law firm, as well as a lifeguard and swim instructor at LHY.  James is very happy to be back with LHY.

Anne O'Gorman

Age Group 4 Coach

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Anne swam for LHY for 8 years, then went on to swim at Rowan University, where she was a captain her senior year and still holds the 200 butterfly record. Anne has a degree in Elementary Education from Rowan and will complete her Masters in Library and Information Science at Rutgers University in December. Anne is currently the head of Children’s Services at the Boonton Library. Anne began coaching at LHY at the age of 16, starting with spring clinic and gradually moving up to coach Age Group 4.  She is committed to helping swimmers develop a positive attitude and to working with each swimmer to help them reach their full potential.  


"You can't put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get". Michael Phelps

Ed Soder

Senior Coach

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Ed has 25 years of experience as a swim coach and has coached several YMCA teams, a USA Swim Club, and the College of Saint Elizabeth Swim Team.  He started his career at the age 18 as the coach of the West Morris YMCA Co-Ed swim team. He worked his way up to Head Assistant Coach at the West Morris YMCA. In 2000, Ed became the Head Swim Coach and Aquatic Director for the Morris Center YMCA. During his 6-year tenure at MCY there was steady growth, improvement, and the team’s first National qualifier in 14 years. From there he went on to coach the College of Saint Elizabeth’s swim team where he had several NEAC Champions throughout his 4 years of coaching the team.

The foundation of Ed’s swimming philosophy was developed at Stanford University National Swim Clinic, where he was a coach/counselor for 4 summers under former Olympic Coaches Richard Quick and Skip Kenney. Strong fundamentals and proper technique is key to success.

Currently, Ed is the Aquatic Director at the Lakeland Hills YMCA, where he incorporates his 30 years of experience in Aquatics to run the Aquatic Program.

Jenny Suarez

Dryland Coach

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Jennifer graduated from William Paterson with BA in Science and a certificating to teach K-12 Physical Education, Health, and Drivers Education. Currently she is studying for my Personal Training Certification and Nutrition Specialist through NASM-National Academy of Sports Medicine. Jennifer hopes to go back to school for her master’s in education and for her yoga certification. She has always had a passion for health and fitness ever since she was young. After graduating college, she worked for the YMCA for 5 years in various positions. There she was implementing the Healthy U and C.A.T.C.H (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) program to educate children on proper nutrition and increase physical activity. Jennifer currently teaches P.E and Health for the Roxbury district, she is excited to come back to the Y to work with the swim team.  She also teaches CCD for her church as well as teaching kids how to swim on the weekends. If she is not teaching you can find her practicing yoga, playing field hockey, hiking, and anything else that will increase endorphins. Hence why she is always happy and positive…all those endorphins.

Meghan Ann Thompson

Super Squad Coach

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Meghan Thompson began swimming for LHY when she was 10. She qualified for YMCA Nationals at age 13 and set numerous team records in the freestyle events. She still holds the 1000 free, but is hoping someone breaks it soon. In high school, Meghan co-head coached the Smoke Rise Stingrays in Kinnelon, NJ for 3 years. 

Meghan swam for Lehigh University and was captain her senior year. In her four years at Lehigh, she was a 3-time Patriot League Champion in the 1650 free, 200 free, and 200 free relay. She currently holds 4 individual team records and 3 relay records. Now that she has graduated, Meghan works for Covanta, a sustainable energy company in Morristown, NJ.

Meghan is really excited to work with Super-squad and she hopes she can give the younger swimmers the same love and excitement towards swimming that her LHY coaches had given her. 

 

Mike Turkot

Age Group 3 Coach

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Mike began his swimming career at the Glacier Hills summer league program. This experience led him to year-round competition with the Crimson Aquatic Club under Gary Johnson. As a high school swimmer, Mike began his coaching career at Glacier Hills during the summer. After a successful college swimming career at Rowan University, Mike started coaching on a USA Swimming club level with the Elite Swim Club in 2003. He has been a member of the LHY staff since 2011 where he has worked primarily with the Age Group program, as well as assisting the National team coaches in the Senior program.

During his career, Mike has helped create various technique systems, an organized system for underwater filming and analysis, as well as a focused method of technique instruction in group and individual settings. Under Mike's technique and mechanics instruction, many of his swimmers went on to earn USA Swimming Sectional and National cut times, Scholastic All-American awards, as well as multiple World Junior National team members. 

Coaching requires respect, knowledge, and a passion for learning. Mike believes that the best coaches are those who place the emphasis on teaching and not routine lap swimming. Being able to instill an understanding of the "hows and whys" of swimming is a skill he works towards mastering every time he steps on a pool deck. 

Greg Yarnall

Head Age Group Coach & Age Group 1

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Greg began coaching at West Milford’s summer team in 1989 and coached them to seven division championships in nine years.  He swam at Lakeland Hills and then at Connecticut College for four years where he served as captain his senior year.  After graduating with a History degree, he began teaching at the Academy of Saint Elizabeth where he is also the head varsity swim coach.  Greg has coached the HS team to victory by claiming the Morris County Championship in 2004 and 2005. The St. Elizabeth's Swim Team won 7 straight Northern Hills Conference titles before the realignment of HS athletics in 2009.  In 2005, the HS team also won the Non-Public State Title.  In 2003 & 2005, Greg was named All-Area Swim Coach of the Year. Greg has spent many summers working at the Stanford National Swim Camp where he would refine his approach to stroke technique under the guidance of Olympic swim coach Richard Quick.  

 
In 2010 Greg was honored as the NJ Swimming Age Group Coach of the Year. That same year he was able to meet with some the top Age Group coaches in the country when he attended the National Age Group Coaches Summit at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. Greg is currently an ASCA Level 3 certified coach.
 
Swim Team Parents Committee

Thomas E Pownall

President

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Melissa Corbo

1st VP

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Karen Leanne Scornavacca

2nd VP

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Courtney Hann

National Team President

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Jeffrey J Sartorio

Treasurer

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Sherene Imran-Lall

Secretary

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John J Bernauer

Y Board Liaison

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Keira Cruz

Head Coach

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Michael Tucker

Parent Rep

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Nicole McNamara

Parent Rep

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