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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, such as dues, safety, or policy issues, please contact one of the Administrators.

Joe Benjamin

Head Coach & Aquatics Director

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Coach Joe Benjamin is the lead coach of the Senior Championship Group. He has been with RSD Swim Team since 1995 and is a level 5 ASCA coach, USA Swimming’s highest designation. During Joe’s tenure as the Head Coach, team membership has increased from 60 members to over 560 athletes and the coaching staff has grown from 3 coaches to 12 coaches. During this time, RSD produced their first Junior National, Senior National, and Olympic Trial qualifiers. Coach Joe started his swimming career at the age of six, and swam competitively through school and college. Coach Joe competed at Junior Nationals, Senior Nationals, and Olympic Trials level, and he was named to the USA National Team during his college years, at the University of Georgia, where he was team captain.

Nicole N Douglas

Head Age Group Coach

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Richard W Contreras

Assistant Coach

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Coach Richard Contreras is the lead coach of the Senior Blue Group. He has been with the RSD swim team for 14 years. He has been coaching swimming for over 20 years. He is also in his 14th year of coaching at Torrey Pines High School (7th as head coach). He has twice been voted “Coach of the Year” for the North County Conference of high schools. Richard was a two year starter in water polo at Sierra College in Rocklin. At Sierra College he earned all-conference honors twice in both swimming and water polo. Richard is a graduate of Cal. State San Marcos where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Latin American history.

Bryan T Jacobson

Assistant Coach

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Coach Bryan Jacobson is the lead coach of the Grunion Group. He is a true waterman that spends much of his time in pools and in the ocean, surfing and swimming. Bryan has nearly 30 years of experience, and has a passion for building kids and adults love of swimming. Bryan has brought his enthusiastic spirit to RSD for 10 years and running. 

Armani Kobik

Assistant Coach

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Troy P Marcikic

Assistant Coach

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Elizabeth L Schlicher

Assistant Coach

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Darrell Swenson

Assistant Coach

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Darrell Swenson volunteers roughly 15 hours per week working with the senior groups and select younger swimmers who are on track to join the senior group. Darrell was a collegiate swimmer at the University of Georgia before working as the men’s coach at San Diego State and UC Davis, and as an Assistant Coach at UCSD and Cal Berkeley.

Gracie Van der Byl

Assistant Coach

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Coach Gracie Van der Byl is the lead coach of the White Group. She is one of RSD’s most versatile coaches, having helped with every group on our team. Her deep background and extensive knowledge of the sport is part of the reason she was named San Diego-Imperial Age Group Coach of the Year in 2010. Coach Gracie started swimming at age 7 in Mississippi and is currently continuing her impressive career. She was team captain for her club team, The Woodlands Swim Club in Texas. She swam at the University of Houston. Gracie was a Junior National, Senior National, and Olympic Trial Qualifier. As a Masters Swimmer, Grace is a 5 time All American, she holds numerous SDI records and is ranked top 10 in the world in two events. As an open water swimmer Gracie holds two course records for Alcatraz swims and is in the Hall of Fame.

Chris G Yarranton

Assistant Coach

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Anya S Lavoie

Assistant Coach

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Coach Anya Lavoie is the assistant coach of the FSS Leopard Shark, Leopard, Shark, and Red Groups. She lived in San Diego until she moved to the Woodlands, Texas in 2009, and returned to San Diego in 2016.  Anya started swimming competitively when she was 8 and still continues to swim today. While living in Texas she swam for The Woodlands Swim Team and was team captain her senior year in High School. Anya was also an assistant coach for The Woodlands for 3 years, working with their developmental groups. Currently, Anya is swimming with RSD's Masters program and plans on swimming for San Diego Mesa College in the Spring.  After graduating from a two year school she plans on attending a four year university to obtain her Masters Degree in Elementary Education.

Paul J Mazzarelle

Assistant Coach

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Paul Mazzarelle returned to RSD in November 2015 and brings more than 25 years of competitive swim coaching experience to RSD. Paul started coaching in 1991 with North Coast Swim Club in Arcata, CA while earning a degree in Biology at Humboldt State University. After graduation, Paul worked as an Age Group Coach in San Diego and simultaneously coached high school swimming and water polo for three years. In 1998 Paul returned to Arcata as the Head Coach of Humboldt Swim Club. Paul produced three young Junior National qualifiers in just two years (swimmers aged 14, 15, and 16) gaining team recognition in the area and preparing the local swimmers for collegiate swimming. Paul also coached for Pacific Swimming at Western Zones and was selected by Pacific Swimming to attend the National Age Group Coaches Conference at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, NY. The clinic was moderated by USA Swimming’s Bill Boomer who revolutionized stroke technique with a scientific whole-body approach to teaching and training competitive swimmers. Paul continues to carry these concepts with him to his daily practices. Paul was also an Associate Professor teaching swimming classes at College of the Redwoods between his morning and afternoon club coaching duties.

Always seeking education and mentorship, Paul spent two summers as a coach with the Stanford National Swim Camp, which reinforced the stroke technique and training philosophies of Bill Boomer/Stanford University with Olympic Coaches Richard Quick and Skip Kenney, 6- and 3-time Olympic Coaches respectively.

From 2000-2005 he joined the coaching staff at the world-renowned Mission Viejo Nadadores in Mission Viejo, CA. During his time in Mission Viejo, Paul was the 13-14 Division Director overseeing a number of assistant coaches and was responsible for coaching the club's elite 13- and 14-year-old swimmers. Paul developed multiple individual and relay NRT (Top 16) swimmers in the 13-14 age group (swimmers earning an NRT time are in the top 1 percent of American age group swimmers). With well over 750-year-round team members, Paul was responsible for almost 150 swimmers in the 13-14 age group. In addition to his coaching responsibilities in the 13-14 age group, Paul assisted with daily National Team practices under the tutelage of Hall of Fame inductee Coach Bill Rose. Paul was fortunate enough to be a member of the Nadadores staff during two Olympic cycles in which Coach Rose placed Chad Carvin (200 freestyle) on the 2000 Olympic Team and Larsen Jensen (silver medalist and American Record holder in the 1500 freestyle) on the 2004 Olympic Team. The Mission Viejo Nadadores have successfully placed at least one athlete on every U.S. Olympic Team from 1976 to the present. Paul served as a coach for numerous Southern California Swimming All Star Teams and served as Vice Chair for the Orange Section and the Program committee.

Paul’s tenure at Mission Viejo was cut short to tend to an ailing family member and moved back to San Diego after only five years with the club. In 2005 Paul was hired in his first-stint with RSD as Head Age Group Coach. At the time, RSD was ever-growing and seemingly becoming better with each passing year. By the time a second pool was built, Paul’s responsibilities increased by overseeing the program and assistant coaches as membership swelled from 100 to 250 swimmers aged 12 and younger. Paul managed the growth and helped create an age group progression from novice to elite swimmers. Paul also worked with the local governing swimming committee and was active in the San Diego-Imperial Swimming Coaches Association and Meet Program Committee.

In 2010 Paul’s then-fiancée Shannon was relocated to the bay area for work. Paul tagged along and while in NorCal Paul secured a Head Coach position for a small team of 60 swimmers working out at Solano Community College. During his tenure, the team swelled from 60 swimmers to 140+ by building a strong age group program and moving the older swimmers to success at the High School Section Championships and Senior levels; with one swimmer achieving USA National times in the distance events. He also was involved in the local LSC Board and committees and was selected to coach the Sierra Nevada all-star training group at the Olympic Training Center Colorado Springs, CA.

In 2012 Paul was awarded a Masters of Sports Science from the United States Sports Academy and is ASCA Level 4 meeting specific education and performance requirements.

Paul and Shannon welcomed their son Rocco in August 2014 and in December 2015 returned to San Diego to be closer to family. RSD was the ONLY team Paul wanted to return to and feels blessed to be back with his favorite San Diego swim team! Paul also assists part-time with San Diego Mesa Men’s’ and Women’s’ Swim Teams and teaches exercise science classes at the college as well.

Michael Austin Cohn

Assistant Coach

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A Solana Beach native, Michael Cohn is a 4-time DII All-American Swimmer and 4-time school record holder from UCSD (class of '17). He was also a competitor at the 2016 USA Swimming Olympic Trials, representing both UCSD and RSD. Michael first joined RSD in 2013 as a member of the Senior Championship team after transferring from Wind 'n' Sea Swim Team. He would later be elected Senior Team captain from 2013 until 2014, when he left to attend and compete at UCSD. Michael has competed at all levels of USA Swimming and collegiate competition including: Arena Grand Prix Series, US Nationals, US Opens, 2016 Olympic trials, NCAA DII Championships (2015, 16, 17), and is a nationally ranked backstroke specialist. He has been coaching for RSD since the summer of 2014.