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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 administrative questions, such as dues, safety, or policy issues, please contact Coach Heath.

Coaching Staff

Heath Edwards

Head Coach - USC Jr/Sr Teams

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HEACOACH/TEAM OWNER

Coach Heath, SC Swimming's 2017 and 2018 Swim Coach of the Year, was born and raised in Columbia, SC. He began swimming year-round in high school and had a very successful age group swimming career. In his junior year at Irmo High School, Heath won Junior Nationals in 200 fly and finished top two in the country in two other events. 

After graduating from Irmo, Heath began his college swimming and academic career at the University of Georgia (UGA). Coach Heath had a very decorated swimming career at UGA, collecting 14 All-American Honors, Academic All-American Honors, an SEC Championship Title in the 200 Fly and the UGA record in the 200 Fly. His team awards included the Hardest Worker Award, Most Improved Award, and the Jeff Poppell Award, given to one senior whose “career achievements and leadership qualities set him apart from his teammates and peers.” 

Between Heath’s junior and senior year at UGA, he took two years off to serve a full time mission for his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. After returning to UGA from his two year hiatus, Heath was voted Team Captain and led his team to a national placement at the NCAA Swimming Championships. 

Coach Heath started Palmetto Aquatics in 2001, and he has developed it into one of the strongest swim programs in South Carolina. Coach Heath has coached swimmers at all levels, from Novice all the way through Nationa ls.  He has had seven swimmers compete at Junior Nationals; two swimmers at Senior Nationals; 42 PALM swimmers have held Age Group State Championship titles; 62 PALM swimmers have received All-State awards.  Coach Heath has also had 40 swimmers go on to swim at the college level.  

Heath has three beautiful boys, Emerson, Tanner, and Sawyer, and is married to his best friend, Kim.

 

Jennifer McLeod

Assistant Coach - USC AG Elite/Silver 1

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Jennifer McLeod Crady grew up swimming and coaching for the Mission Viejo Nadadores, in Mission Viejo, California. She was a competitive swimmer with the Nadadores from 1981-2005 and the University of Cincinnati from 1993-1998. While a member of the Nadadores, Jennifer was a National Qualifier in the 800 and 1500 meter freestyle. She was also a member of the US Open Water National Team, representing the US at the Pre-World Championships, and was a National Champion in the 15K. Jennifer was named an All-American by US swimming for six years. While at the University of Cincinnati, she was a two-time Conference Swimmer of the Year and a three-time MVP.

Jennifer was a member of the seasonal coaching staff with the Nadadores from 1993-2007. She also served as a graduate assistant coach with the University of South Carolina Men’s Swim Team in 1998-1999. She served as a coach at Hammond School from 1998-2001. She was an assistant swim coach at Ridge View High School from 2003-2008. Most recently, Jennifer coached for the Jeep Rogers Family YMCA (2007- 2013) and coached Golden Hills Golf Country Club this past summer.

Jennifer attended the University of Cincinnati, with a double major in Environmental Science and Environmental Policy, and attended the University of South Carolina earning a Master’s of Art in Teaching (Earth Science) and a Masters of Earth of Environmental Resource Management. She is currently a Lead Teacher at Ridge View High School. Jennifer is married to Jerry Crady.

Zia Layton

Assistant Coach - Harbison

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My name is Alexandria Layton, but my nickname is Zia. I grew up swimming at Harbison Recreation Center from age 5 to 15. I went to Irmo High School and swam on Irmo High’s swim team and then attended the University of South Carolina where I received a bachelor's degree in Sports and Entertainment Management. After college, I moved to Florida to work at Disney World as a character attendant in entertainment.  I was a Palmetto Aquatics coach from October 2001 until March 2005. Ever since I was little,I have always loved swimming and I want to share that passion with others. As a swim coach, I plan to encourage swimmers to be the best they can be and want to make a difference in their lives.

Kim Gould

Assistant Coach - USC Jr/Sr Teams

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Palmetto Aquatics is thrilled to have Coach Kim Gould as a member of the coaching staff!  Coach Kim began her swimming career in the seventh grade at Emmaus High School in Pennsylvania.  After a successful high school swimming career Coach Kim first began coaching by developing a summer league team and working as an assistant coach for Emmaus Aquatic Club.  She swam one year in college at Shippensburg University and then transferred to Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. 

After working as a pharmacist for a number of years and raising her three darling children, Coach Kim returned to coaching at Blythewood High School for five years. Since that time Coach Kim has been coaching year-round in the Columbia area, joining the PALM Staff in September of 2016.  Two of her children, Ashleigh and Maddie followed their mom’s footsteps by choosing swimming as their sport. Coach Kim is also the head coach of AC Flora High School.

Jan Thompson

Team Manager

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Coach Thompson grew up in Montreal, Canada, and started swimming at age nine for the Pointe Claire Swim Club. She improved rapidly in sprint freestyle and butterfly, and at the age of 12, was the youngest female to ever qualify for Senior Nationals.  She represented Quebec and Canada at international competitions; competed at the 1980 and 1984 Canadian Olympic Trials (missing making the team by .07 in 100 freestyle); and swam at numerous summer and winter Senior Nationals. She was then recruited to swim on a full athletic scholarship for the South Carolina Gamecocks (1981-1985),  where she was an NCAA All-American.

After retiring from swimming, Coach Thompson began competing in triathlons and started giving private swimming lessons to children and triathletes. She completed a journalism internship at the United States Olympic Training Center, in Colorado Springs, and then graduated from USC in 1986, with a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications, with a focus on editing; and with a French minor. She began her coaching career in 1986, as an Assistant with Gamecock Aquatics, helping coach the age group and masters teams.  In 1987, when the Olympic Committee added 50 freestyle to the Olympic events list, Coach Thompson took a break from coaching, to train for the 1988 Olympic Trials.  Later in 1987, Coach Thompson married triathlete Randy Thompson and within a few months, the couple found out they were unexpectedly (but with much joy) expecting a baby. So, Coach Thompson stopped training for the Trials and resumed coaching Gamecock Aquatics, until 1990, when she gave birth to their second child. She then stopped coaching for a few years, to raise and home school their children: Daniel, Leanne and Mark.

In 1997, Coach Thompson took over the Head Coach position for four years at Columbia Country Club, where she coached and managed a summer team of 110 swimmers. In 2001, the Thompson family followed God's leading to serve in missions, and they moved to Cambodia, in Southeast Asia, where they helped start churches in a rural area, helped with an orphan ministry and helped with medical needs. Returning to the states in 2005, to care for a relative with cancer, Coach Thompson resumed her private lessons business and resumed triathlon training and swim coaching. From 2006-2012, she was Head Coach of the newly-formed Drew Sharks, a small year round City of Columbia swim team at the Drew Wellness Center. During the summers of 2012 and 2013, Coach Thompson was Head Coach of Forest Lake Club, coaching and managing a team of 165 swimmers.  In 2006, she became Head Coach of Hammond School Varsity Swim Team, just completing her 12th season, where she has led the girls team to several State Runners-Up finishes, two State Championship finishes, and several individual boys and girls State Championionships. 

Coach Thompson loves kids, loves the sport of swimming and has loved every swimmer and team that she's coached and managed. She is eager for this opportunity to help Coach Heath with the management of Palmetto Aquatics Swim Team, and is happy to be a part of the PALM Family!

 

Alec Rutkowski

Assistant Coach - Harbison

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Coach Alec started swimming summer league when he was just four years old, first for Gardendale and then for Quail Valley.  He swam for Palmetto Aquatics from age 8 to 18 and  swam while a freshman at the College of Charleston, before transferring to USC during his sophomore year to swim for the Gamecocks. Alex specialized in 200 IM and 400 IM, and he still holds a couple of PALM records.  During his swimming career, he competed at Age Group Sectionals, Senior Sectionals and Zones, and as a college swimmer he competed at conference championships.  

Alec started coaching for Palmetto in 2016, and he has also helped coach the Quail Valley summer team for eight years.  He enjoys watching each swimmer grow and progess over the summers at Quail Valley and loves seeing the success of all the hard work when it pays off at the end of each season at the Columbia Swim Leauge City Meet Championships.

Alec is graduate of USC with a degree in Physical Education. He is now a PE teacher at Irmo Middle School. In his free time, he loves to spend time at the lake with friends and family, and he is a big University of South Carolina football fan.    As a former swimmer, and now a coach of the Blue and Silver groups at the Harbison location,  Alec believes there is no better team and family to learn, compete and enjoy the sport of swimming with, than PALM! 

David Munn-Carstensen

Assistant Coach - USC AG Elite/Silver 1

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Coach David has lived in Columbia his entire life and swam summer league for the Jewish Community Center (JCC).  He swam for Dreher High School and competed in 100 breaststroke at high school State Championships each year with a top-5 finish one year.  David also swam for Palmetto Aquatics for six years and is currently a sophomore at University of South Carolina where he is double majoring in Math and English.  He enjoys coaching the Fledgling group for Palmetto and is very happy to still be a part of the team!  In his spare time, David enjoys reading and he also likes to play soccer whenever he gets the chance.  

Wes Watts

Assistant Coach - USC Jr/Sr Teams

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Coach Wes grew up in the Irmo area, where he was an accomplished swimmer.  He was a 4-time Junior National Qualifier in 50 Free and 100 Free, and he attended the Citadel on a full swimming scholarship, where he was awarded All Southern Conference honors. 

Wes coached Irmo High School Swimming from 1999-2001. During his tenure at Irmo, the girls team won the 1999 State Championship and were runners-up in 2000. He again coached Irmo HS In 2013 and 2014, and the girls won the Region IV State Championship in 2013.  He also has coaching experience with summer recreational teams at Snee Farm and Country Club of Charleston.

Wes has a B.S. degree in Physical Education from the Citadel, and he is a National Board Certified teacher at the Lexington District Five Center for Advanced Technical Studies.  He is married and has one son who swims for Palmetto Aquatics.  Wes enjoys fishing and spending time with his family.

Caroline Adams

Assistant Coach - USC Fledgling

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Coach Caroline first started swimming for Hunting Creek Summer League Team where she swam for six summers.  At age seven, Caroline joined Palmetto Aquatics where she swam for 13 years. After taking a gap year after high school, she attended Converse College where she swam for three and a half years. During her years of swimming for Palmetto and Converse College, Carolines's favorite events were the 200 freestyle and the 200 backstroke. 

Caroline has coached off and on for Palmetto Aquatics for the past eight years, and she currently helps coach the Fledgling group. She started coaching the Fledgling group when she was a freshman in high school and continued throughout high school and during a gap year. She also started to coach the Blue group when needed and helped coach Silver as well. When home on breaks from college, or during the summers, she would also help fill in gaps when other coaches were unavailable.  Coach Caroline also spent 2015 helping coach the Greenview Dolphins summer league and club team. Coaching Highlights: One of Coach Caroline's most memorable coaching highlights was going to 8 & Under State with the Fledgling swimmers that she coached and seeing their excitement at their accomplishments. 

Coach Caroline received her  Bachelors of Arts in Art Therapy and Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from Converse College and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Counseling program at Columbia International University.  During her free time, she enjoys going to the mountains or lifeguarding at Young Life Camps.  

 

 

Jason Todd Kendall

Assistant Coach - USC Blue 1&2/Silver 2

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Coach Jason has been involved in the swimming world on some level for over 20 years. He began by working as a lifeguard and swim instructor while playing football, both in high school and in college. During that time, he fell in love with the sport of swimming, and pursued a goal of always participating and being educated as a swimmer, instructor and coach.

Coach Jason was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina, where he graduated from Richland Northeast High School. He briefly pursued a college football career at the University of South Carolina, and then at North Greenville College, before relocating to Sarasota, Florida, to attend and graduate from Ringling School of Art and Design. While in Florida, he began his “competitive” swimming career as a Master’s swimmer, competing in several open water races, as well as participating in numerous triathlons.

            After art school, Coach Jason moved to New York to work for Dia Center for the Arts, in Manhattan. In 2003, he became the Aquatics Director at The Brooklyn Sports Club, where he founded and developed their highly successful and well-known Learn-To-Swim Program. This program laid the foundation for the club’s competitive swim program, the Brooklyn Sports Club D-Team (Developmental Team), of which Jason was the Head Coach, and the USA swim club, the BSCAT Swordfish (Brooklyn Sports Club Aquatic Team). After attending graduate school at NYU, Coach Jason split his time between being an artist, teaching art at NYU, and coaching swimming, until March 2009, when his wife give birth to twin girls.

            In 2009, Coach Jason and his family permanently relocated back to Columbia, and he worked for Coach Heath as his Associate Head Coach until 2011.  This year (2019), Coach Jason is once again part of the Palmetto Aquatics family, assisting Coach Jen with the Silver and Age Group Elite teams.

Coach Jason also owns and runs his own Art/Arts Media Company "kendallprojects" who produces all the social media content for Palmetto Aquatics, as well as for other local clients.

Hannah Nates

Assistant Coach - USC Fledgling

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Hannah grew up here in Columbia where she started swimming competitively when she was six years old,  first for her summer team; then for  Palmetto Aquatics and Irmo High School. 
Her best events were 100 and 200 breaststroke, and she qualified for High School State Championships once and qualified a few times for Age Group State, too.   For the past four years, Hannha has been an assistant swim coach for her summer league team Quail Valley. One of her favorite memories is having one of her eight and under summer league swimmers call her up early in the morning on the day of City Meet, because he was nervous and crying about swimming butterfly.  Hannah's favorite swimming memories are: Qualifying for State in breaststroke for the very first time; and winning City Meet!  

Hannah is presently a student at USC and swims on USC's Club Team. In her spare time, she enjoys making spontaneous plans with friends, and enjoys running on Saturday mornings.   

Olivia Rasbornik

Assistant Coach - USC AG Elite

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Olivia grew up in Mooresville, NC, and started swimming for the Lake Norman summer swim team when she was just four years old. In middle school she swam for MAC, and as a high school student she swam for Pine Lake Prep where she competed at State Meet every year. During her high school years she also swam for the Lowe's YMCA club team. Olivia's best events were 100 fly and 200 IM, and one of her most memorable swimming moments was breaking a minute in the 100 fly -- she cried tears of joy!  

Olivia helped coach her summer league team from 2012-2016, and she also was a volunteer coach for the Lowe’s YMCA team from 2013-2016.  After graduating from Pine Lake Prep in 2016, Olivia attended the University of South Carolina where she is pursuing a degree in Exercise Science with the plan to graduate in December of 2019. She then plans to pursue a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree.  

It is incredibly important to Olivia that kids develop their sense of self, mentally, physically and spiritually.  She says swimming led her to grow in those areas and provided her with the foundation of who she is today.  She loves getting to see that happening throughout our team here at Palmetto Aquatics.  When she's not busy coaching or studying, Olivia can typically be found enjoying a variety of outdoor activites such as: swimming, tubing, going to Riverwalk Park, hiking and snowboarding.  

 

Kendra Tervo

Assistant Coach

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Kendra grew up in Negaunee, Michigan. She has always loved the water, and when she was very young she started taking swimming lessons.  She began swimming competitively with a YMCA club team in 6th grade, and she also swam for her high school team. Kendra's favorite event to swim was the 100 backstroke and she also sometimes enjoyed the 200 freestyle. As a junior in high school, Kendra qualified for the Upper Peninsula Finals where she placed 9th in 100 backstroke.  As a high school student, she did some assistant coaching for her YMCA club team, and as a college freshman at USC, Kendra swam for the USC club team.

Kendra is now a senior majoring in Russian and minoring in Naval Science. She will be commissioning as an officer in the Navy in May, and then will attend Naval flight school in Florida.  In her spare time, Kendra enjoys crossfit and hiking.  She has two younger brothers, and has one younger sister who is also a swimmer.  Her favorite Olympic swimmer is Missy Franklin. 

Danielle Ertzner

Assistant Coach

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Danielle grew up in Chesterfield, Virginia, where she swam for the Chester YMCA (four years) and Chester Recreational Association summer league team (nine summers).  At age 11, she switched year-round teams and swam for Poseidon Swimming for six years. As a freshman in high school,  she switched to swimming for her neighborhood summer swim team, Woodland Pond and swam there for four summers. Danielle was a founding member of her high school’s swim team at Monacan High School, and her freshman year was the first year swimming was a high school sport in her county. She went on to be captain of that team  during her junior and senior years. Danielle is now a member of USC’s club swimming team. 
 
As an age group swimmer, Danielle qualified for both short course and long course Age Group Championships every year.  A highlight of her swimming career was qualifying as a 13-year-old for the NASA Elite Showcase Classic in Clearwater, Florida.  She also swam in the International Children’s Games in 2014 (Australia) and 2015 (Netherlands). In high school swimming, she qualified for districts and regionals and during her senior year, the girls' swim team was the VHSL 4a State Champions. 
 
Her favorite moments as a club swimmer was always having fun on deck with her friends, as well as making qualifying times for the big meets. Danielle's best events were: 200 breaststroke, 200 freestyle, 200 IM, and 400 IM, and she loved 100 free, too. She was a Coach in Training for three years before becoming an assistant swim coach in 2019 for Woodland Pond summer team.  As a swim coach, especially of younger children, Danielle loves to prioritize fun and sportsmanship above anything else. At such a young age, Danielle believes it’s important to instill in the kids values that will make them want to continue the sport as they get older. 
 
Danielle graduated in 2019 from Monacan High School’s Health and Physical Therapy Specialty Center, and she is now an Experimental Psychology major at USC.  In her spare time she enjoys hanging out with friends and family watching baseball or football, and she also loves to travel, and loves the beach, yoga and Boston sports teams.  

Riley Ammons

Assistant Coach

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Riley grew up here in Columbia, SC. She swam from age 6 to age 18 for Rockbridge Swim and Tennis Club, and she was a Columbia Swim Leage City Champion. At age 11, Riley started swimming year-round with Palmetto Aquatics, and she swam for PALM until she graduated from high school in 2018.  As a high school student, Riley swam for AC Flora Swim Team, where she was a team captain during her Junior and Senior years, as well as a 3A SCHSL State Champion, 3A SCHSL All-Region Swimmer, and 3A SCHSL All-State Swimmer.  Her best events were 100 and 200 back, and 100 and 200 butterfly.  During her swimming career with PALM, Riley was a Team Captain, a SC Swimming State Meet qualifier and finalist, an ESSZ Age Group Sectionals qualifier, an ESSZ Senior Sectionals qualifier, and a SC Swimming ESSZ Zones Team member, among other honors.  

During high school, Riley occaionally volunteer coached for PALM, and for three summers she was an assistant swim coach for Rockbridge Swim and Tennis Club.  At her very first swim meet as a coach, Riley recalls crying because she was so proud of her swimmers and their successes and was so happy to see them excited and ready to race.   

Riley is the type of person who adores her family, whether it's her biological family, swim family or sorority family. She  is currently a sophomore at USC pursuing a degree in Sport and Entertainment Management.  She is a huge sports fan and loves football season. During her spare time she enjoys hanging out with friends or family, and also enjoys curling up with a good book.