Title: Founder and Director of Swim Focus, Head Coach of Rocket Fish Swim School, Co-Head Coach of our Master’s Program, Swim Long Beach
How I got into swimming: My youth was spent in and out of the water in Laguna Beach. My folks bought and fixed up a ramshackle trailer on El Moro Cove beach when I was seven years old. These were halcyon days of swimming and skin diving, body surfing and boogie boarding – spent with a small gaggle of groms - all beach kids, just running around and experiencing the ocean and surf, beach and rocks, just real natural and beautiful, learning about and loving the beach and ocean.
During the school year on weekdays, we'd do the school/work thing up here in Long Beach, and on the weekends and all summer we'd hit the pristine, squeaky clean sands of El Moro. Prior to El Moro, from age 6 months to age 6 my family took me to the calm waters of Alamitos Bay in Long Beach - playing on paddle boards and running in and out of the water.
In 7th Grade, I began playing water polo with Beach Swim Club at CSULB. It was my first introduction to organized sports and it was pretty fun. At the end of my first season our coach recommended that we swim in the off-season to stay in shape. I tried swimming and liked it a lot, even better than water polo. I liked the simplicity and straightforwardness of moving fast through the water. I continued to play water polo each season through 11th grade but I really thrived and felt most natural with swimming, learning the strokes, and challenging myself to go faster.
High School: Woodrow Wilson High School, Long Beach, class of 1986. Klaus Barth was our high school swim coach and Bob Gruniesen was our water polo coach. At the time, the legendary Klaus was at his peak of triathalon greatness and was a big inspiration to all of us. He had many stories and a great sense of humor. In humorous ways he taught us about being determined to come to practice and try our hardest in spite of needing sleep, doing homework, and other high school distractions. Our Wilson Varsity swim class of '86 was a class of dedicated student-athletes. I also team captained my junior and senior years, set school records and won many races, including a team win at CIF relays, held at Belmont Plaza, and a personal CIF win in the 200 yard IM at East Los Angeles College. After graduating Wilson, four of us on our team went to Stanford and pursued aquatics. Three of my buddies played water polo and I swam.
Klaus gave me plenty of room to continue swimming for my club team, Beach. Klaus, who also coached at BEACH, understood the balancing act of participating with high school swimming and then really getting the work done with club swimming. During these years I was coached by Everett Uchiyama, Jim Brumm, Dave Salo, Tim Shaw, Jon Urbanachek, and others. Each coach offered a little different perspective on personal and aquatic greatness and I still remember their lessons. Two of my teammates from junior high and high school days are still my teammates now: Matty Mitchell and Katie Rowe. It’s pretty cool to still be swimming and working with these two today!
During school and swimming, my surfing, skin diving and beach time was still part of my lifestyle but became more rare than in my youth and as such, more cherished and appreciated.
College: After being a big fish in a medium-sized pond at Wilson, Stanford was all about swimming with the really BIG fish. During my freshman year, 1986-87, our team won NCAA's with the likes of Pablo Morales (USA Olympian and world record holder 100 Fly), Jeff Kostoff (USA Olympian and American Record Holder in the mile), Anthony Mosse (New Zealand Olympian - 200 Fly), and Sean Murphy (Canadian Olympian-200 back). This was an unbelievable experience based around living the most hard-core student-athlete lifestyle imaginable. Our swim team was really unified and all the older, fast guys were very approachable and friendly. I swam in the 1988 Olympic Trials and although I wasn't even close to making the USA Olympic team it was great to watch and support my Stanford teammates make the team or experience their near misses and heartbreaks. I learned so much from watching them swim and listening to them out of the water. Each year we would swim (and win) Pac-10's at Belmont Plaza and it was fun to have all my Stanford teammates come check out my hometown and meet my family and friends.
As for the academic challenge, I was attending super-interesting classes with awesome teachers, the best in their fields. For example, Condoleeza Rice, soon to be selected as Secretary of State for the Bush Administration, was a highly captivating Political Science teacher. I had brilliant classmates from all parts of our country and the world, all set in a utopian, setting with buildings dating back to the 1890s.
I swam three out of my four years at Stanford and enjoyed my senior year without the burden and joy of the hard-core swim lifestyle. I surfed in Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay, and San Francisco much more that year and I'm grateful that I had that year to experience the life of a "normal" college student.
In June of 1990, I graduated Stanford with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. In May of 2006, I graduated with a Masters Degree of Recreation and Leisure Studies from California State University Long Beach.
Current swim jobs/activities: I organize, direct and am Head Coach of the Rocket Fish Swim School for ages five through 5th grade. I do the same for our master's swim program, Swim Long Beach. Prior to Rocket Fish and Swim Long Beach, I was the youth activities director and Head Swim Coach for the Long Beach Yacht Club for fourteen years.
Awards: At Wilson, I was awarded the Greg Winchell Spirit Award given to the most inspirational team member. Greg Winchell was a legendary swimmer who attended Wilson in the 70's and held the national boys high school record in the 100 yard breaststroke. He died in a motorcycle crash during his senior year. He still holds the Wilson record in the 100 yard breaststroke.
Ocean Swimming Competitions: Annually in June, Huntington Beach hosts an open water swim race around the pier. In 1986, I set the record for the fastest person around the Huntington Beach Pier. This swim record (8 minutes and 46 seconds) has held intact for 21 years. By swimming fast around the pier and then catching waves to the beach, our Masters team has achieved many individual wins in the various age and gender groupings. As a result, our team has won the team championship, (the Gene Belshe Memorial Award) at this swim over a dozen times.
In October of 2010, I solo swam the Catalina Channel (from Catalina to the Palos Verdes) in 8 hours and 7 minutes and became the 5th fastest person at that time to ever swim the Catalina Channel. Support boat owner and Captain Greg Wise and First Mate Fred Wise (my brothers), and a solid team of paddlers, Jon Jon McMullen, Matty Mitchell and Cliff Kjoss, helped me find my way to the mainland. My wife Kristin, who was pregnant at the time, was also on board and assisting with my feedings. Open-water swim journalist and mentor Steve Munatones was also on board and recording the night.
In October 2011, members of our master's team entered the Catalina Channel Swim as a relay. We swam from Palos Verdes to Catalina in a fastest-ever recorded relay time of 6 hours and 53 minutes. The six swimmers on our team were myself, Matty Mitchell, Lyle Nalli, Parks Wesson, Ted Bramble and Lexi Kelly with Sammy Sears as our back-up swimmer. We started in windy conditions from Palos Verdes around 9 PM and progressively the ocean calmed down and arrived in Catalina around 4 a.m. Our paddlers were the brothers, Matt and Ben Landis. My brother, Greg, again supported us with his vessel and what a straight line he drew!
Certifications: United States Masters Swimming Recognized Coach, American Swim Coaches of America – Level 2, CPR, First-Aid, Lifeguard Certified
Travel: I've been through the South Pacific Islands and Down Under (New Zealand and Australia), Mexico, Central & South America on self-designed surf travels during my post Stanford Days. I’ve also hit bits of Europe and many spots in the USA. I still enjoy time swimming and surfing with the whales in Baja California Sur on their annual migration.
Skills bringing to the program: My career has been based around sharing my love for the water. Its from this place of passion and multitudes of experience in a few realms of aquatics that I mentor, teach and coach people of all ages.
Personal philosophies or thoughts about swimming/aquatics: I believe that underlying most happy people there is a harmonious balance of factors:
1. School: They are continually learning, bettering themselves and their careers through expanding their knowledge base;
2. Sports: They get enough exercise and fitness on a weekly basis;
3. Self: They take care themselves by eating right, getting enough rest, and personal maintenance;
4. Social: They cultivate a strong support network - a group of friends, teammates and family with whom they interact in healthy relationships;
5. Spirit: Their thoughts, words, and actions are coming from a positive place - a healthy, helpful and vibrant, can-do attitude with a generous heart filled with loving kindness towards all.
This is what I call the 5 Ss of Balanced Excellence. These categories serve character development for our swimmers. There are five points in a traditional drawing of a star. In order to be an "All-Star,” we mentor our swimmers to strive towards balance and excellence in these five categories. We mentor and teach this more explicitly with our youth, explaining and teaching with words, drawings and examples. With our master's swimmers, our coaches model this philosophy providing inspiration and direction.
With swimming, I believe that age, speed, and prowess are not what’s important. It is that kids and adults come to the pool, the bay or the ocean to get better at swimming and get stronger and fitter in mind, body, and spirit. Our youth and adult swim programs are designed to help everybody get better at swimming in a safe-fun, productive, friendly, supportive, team-oriented environment. We find that our process of pursuing personal betterment in swimming leads to living a happier, healthier lifestyle.
Family: I am from a close family with two older brothers and one older sister. I am thirteen years younger than the brother closest to my age. My dad Fred Wise, was a World War II bomber pilot who flew 59 missions in B-26 Marauders in the European Theatre between 1942 and 1944. After returning from war, Fred finished college and worked a couple of jobs before settling into building a mid-sized, customer-service-oriented, wholesale paper company based in Garden Grove, named KWW paper company. My mom, Dorothy Wise, native born Long Beach, was a career volunteer for the American Red Cross, Junior League of Long Beach, and other causes. She received the Rick Racker Woman-of-the-Year award in 1976. My parents and their six sisters as well as my siblings are all alumni of Wilson High School. I married a scholar-athlete-artist named Kristin Moro in February of 2007. She creates paintings and teaches art classes to kids and adults (check out her work at www.kristinmoro.com). Our son, Fox, was born in 2011 and he’s so much fun, a great joy in our lives.
Title: Swimmer, Coach
I got into swimming because I needed an outlet to focus my energies on. Love my folks but they had no knowledge of age-group sports e.g. Pop Warner Football, etc. After trying several sports, my buddy challenged me to race two laps of the pool. I was hooked on swimming. Worked my way up the ladder from community club ( 5 hours a week) to AAU ( swimming every day, 27 hours+ a week).
High School: Evergreen HS, Burien Washington
University: Univ. of P-U-G-E-T Sound ( no “D” in Puget)
Current Swim Jobs/activities: Master swimmer ( 500 miles a year), coaching for Hank and at CSULB masters program
Accomplishments: Placing in top-10 locally, nationally, internationally
Travel/competitions: French Nationals in March, FINA world in August ( Montreal)
Skills shared: Enthusiasm for improved performance at any level both physical and mental--maybe spiritual
My Philosophies: How can I help others improve? Swimming should be fun and rewarding, too, thus I am constantly on the lookout for a new drill or exercise to enhance swimmers efficiency.
Character building: working through the pain, knowing when to rest, over-coming the self-doubts and fears at competitions (the little Freddie’s as Hank & Matty call it) are just some examples. To mature through these things is life-learning, timeless and universal.
When Not Swimming: I am working long hours as a physician and surgeon of the foot and ankle. I live with the love of my life, Cindy, in Huntington Beach. Together we love wine, travel and social gatherings.
Our Community : The swim community in our little haven is so encouraging and fantastic! I would not be as satisfied with my swimming and open water swimming if it were not for the swimming friends I have in the LB area. Building great friendships via the pool has been so very, very rewarding!
Title: Part-time Swim Coach / Part-time Lifeguard / Full-time Medical Device Engineer
How I got into swimming: My father was an Olympic Water Polo player and my mother a collegiate swimmer. I started swim lessons and practices at an early age with Lakewood Aquatics and Beach Swim Club, as well as high school Water Polo at Long Beach Poly.
High School: Long Beach Poly
Current swim jobs/activities: Volunteer Swim Coach at Beach Swim Club, Triathlons
Awards/Accomplishments: USC Swim Team Co-Captain (08-09 Season), 2013 LBFD Catalina Swim Challenge, ESPN LA Radio Guest
Certifications: AHA CPR & First Aid
Travel/Competitions: 2012/2013 Nautica Malibu Triathlons, 2013 LB Marathon, 2013 HB Pier Swim, 2013 Mega Colossus, US Nationals, US Open, Pac-10 Championships
Skills I bring to the program: Pool swimming & specialized stroke work. Aerobic vs Anaerobic training. Intensity training. Underwater work.
Personal philosophies and thoughts about swimming/aquatics: As someone that has grew up in Long Beach, I understand that aquatics is a very important part of the city’s history and I am very passionate to sustaining and reviving the rich aquatic culture. I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by many important Long Beach figures that have been part of this history and I look forward to continue this tradition by being involved in the Long Beach swimming & water polo community for the years to come.
When not swimming....: I work as a Medical Device Engineer specializing in orthopedic trauma implants and instruments for surgery. I design screws, nails, plates, and instruments for use by an orthopedic surgeon. I like to surf, run, bike and go to USC football games (Fight On!).
Family: My father, "Jumbo," my mother, AKemi and my younger brother, Kenji- my one, big, happy swimming & WP family.
Title: Mistress of Email. General cheerleader of rabble-rousing and trouble-making. Organizer of event stuff.
How I got into swimming: Swim lessons age 3. Instructor told my parents I “had potential.” Started competing at LBYC at age 5. Still hold the 9&10 age group 50 free and 100 IM record. Just sayin’…
High School: LB Wilson. Bruin 4 Life!
College: The best 7 years of my life lol…did the So Cal college tour- went to UCLA on a swim scholarship. Transferred to CSULB to swim there with my club coach, swim legend Tim Shaw. Did some (non- swimming time) at LBCC (real classes), Goldenwest (rock climbing – it was awesome), ended at UCI with some sort of Psych degree. Zot Zot! (that’s actually the UCI cheer. Really.)
Current swim jobs/activities: Work in the film industry as a stuntwoman. Spend a lot of time teaching actors how to swim/scuba, and how not to drown. And listening to them whine about their lattes being not properly brewed to 160 degrees and the quality of the soy milk. Ughhhh….But I digress…
Awards/Accomplishments: Other than record holder at LBYC? IS there anything more?!? Five-time CIF Champ and Ten-time High School All-American in 3 years at Wilson. Top 50 World and Top 16 US ranked. UCLA and CSULB Swim Scholarships. Big West Conference champ and record holder. Seal Beach 3 mile champ (back when we swam it out to the oil island- scaaaarrrryyyy!). Naples Island champ. HB Pier champ. Lowell Elementary spelling champion.
Travel/Competitions: 2013 Alcatraz Swim Women’s Skins (no wetsuit) Champ. Plenty of time back in the day swimming around the US with the Beach Swim Club National Team (with Hank and Matty).
Skills I bring to the program: Well, of course the usual swimming stuff- technique etc. But I think my real superpower lies in organizing and cheerleading events. Especially via email. Wait til you see my awesome printable calendar in the summer. Sure, you belittle it now, but when it’s hanging on your fridge next June…you can apologize then. I like to see all swimmers as one big happy wet family.
Personal philosophies or thoughts about swimming/aquatics: 1. You can never retire from swimming. You only think you can. 2. The best people on earth are swimmers. 3. Only swimmers understand other swimmers. Which leads back to….1. You can never retire from swimming…
When not swimming...: I’m usually training for my real job doing something super fun, like catching on fire or falling off buildings. I have a black belt in Kenpo/MMA and I like to spar. I shoot competitively (handguns). I scuba dive. I like to go to coffee after Friday morning workout and ocean swims and hang out even more with the same swimmers I just spent an hour or two with.
Family: Raised by wolves. Swimming wolves of course…but wolves nonetheless.
Title: Bean Counter
How I got into swimming: We moved to Atlanta in 1977 and my parents thought it would be great for me to meet new friends if I joined the neighborhood swim team. It worked! Since then, I’ve used that trick several times as a kid and an adult and it works every time.
High School: Somewhere back East … if you must know, Klein High School which is in a suburb north of Houston
Current swim jobs/activities: Masters swimming (off and on since 1998 … currently on!), Open water swimming with Seal Beach Swim Monkeys
Top 100 World Ranking in 200 meter butterfly
All Big 8 Conference Awards
All Big 8 Academic Award from 1990 to 1993 – Chief Nerd Swimmer!
Only 3 time team captain at Nebraska – first and only 3 time captain in team history
High School All American in 500 Freestyle
Certifications: Certifications – we don’t need no stinking certifications…except Masters Swimming Coach / Swimmer
Alcatraz Open Water Swim – September 2013
Seal Beach Rough Water Swim – June 2013
Michelle Fast Memorial Swim – 2012, 2013
Huntington Beach Pier Swim – June 2012
Skills I bring to the program: I grew up as a distance swimmer so I have that mentality that you must finish strong in everything you swim. I have experience in approaching distance swimming events and how to put together a workout so that you finish strong and achieve your goals.
Personal philosophies or thoughts about swimming/aquatics: My philosophy is that you will have good and bad days but you can always put in your best effort. Sometimes, your best effort may not always be your fastest, but it will be your best for that day. Then, you come back the next day and give it your best effort for that day.
When not swimming....:
Primary job - Husband and Dad
Secondary job - Senior Solutions Manager for a software company called, Vitech System Group
Hobbies - Who has time for hobbies? Swimming is my hobby.
Family: Married to Lisa since 1996. One son, Hunter, born in 2004.
Title: Masters Swim Coach, Physical Therapist, Owner at It's a Grind Coffee House.
How I got into swimming: I grew up surfing with my friends, so when I started high school I thought water polo and swimming would be a good fit for me. I started freshman year and have never looked back!
High School: Downey High School
College: Undergraduate: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Graduate: University of Southern California
Current swim jobs/activities: Los Angeles County Fire Department Ocean Lifeguard, Master Swimming with Swim Focus and LB Viking Aquatics
Awards/Accomplishments: 2000-2003 Los Angeles County Ocean Lifeguard National Championship Team, 2001 & 2002 Water Polo National Collegiate Club Champions
Certifications: Certified First Responder, CPR
Travel/Competitions: 2000 - 2003 National Ocean Lifeguard Championships, numerous other local Ocean Lifeguard Races from 1999 - 2004, been around the world surfing...
Skills I bring to the program: My background in water sports in combination with my education in biomechanical analysis, injury prevention, and exercise physiology put me in a good position help swimmers maximize their performance while staying healthy.
Personal philosophies or thoughts about swimming/aquatics: I believe in having fun and working hard. I think jumping the water is the best way to start you day, and what better way to do that with your friends in the pool. I enjoy keeping practices lighthearted with a sprinkling of focused swimming.
When not swimming...: I enjoy spending time with my wonderful family and surfing, when I get a chance.
Family: I have a beautiful wife named Samantha and a wonderful daughter named Isabella.
Samantha (a.k.a. Sam or Sammy) Sears
Title: Masters “Helper”
How I got into swimming: My mom competed in the Long Beach Stud Ironman when she was pregnant with me, so I was born to be an aquatic athlete. During my first swim lesson, I cried myself to sleep while floating on my back. I have been in the water swimming and playing water polo ever since.
High School: Woodbridge High School (Irvine, CA)
College: B.A. in English from UCLA and M.A. in English from CSULB
Current swim jobs/activities: Water polo and swim coach at Marina High School
Awards/Accomplishments: NCAA Championship in water polo from UCLA; State Championship in water polo from LBCC, All-American in water polo and swimming (500 free and 100 fly) from LBCC
Travel/Competitions: National travel for water polo games and tournaments
Skills I bring to the program: Workout variety—a different focus for each workout (technique, stroke, sprint, and distance)
Personal philosophies or thoughts about swimming/aquatics: There is no better place to be than in the water (pool or open). Appreciate every day that you get to swim!
When not swimming...: Athletic Director at Marina High School; English and physical education teacher; reading and writing; anything in the water (stand-up paddling, kayaking, wake-boarding)
Family: Mom, Connie, is a Dean at Long Beach City College. Dad, Rusty, is a physical education teacher and coach at Bellflower High School. Sister, Jenny, is a second grade teacher at Our Lady of Refuge.