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Coaches

YOUR JCC THUNDERBIRDS SWIM TEAM COACHES

 

Keely Villamizar, Lead Gold & Elite Coach

Coach Keely has over eight years of experience in competitive swimming! When she was eight years old her father made the decision to take her to a competitive swim club where her career as swimmer would start. Traveling with her father and swim team she fell truly in love with swimming. Competing against her own fellow swimmers who were in “the national swim team selection” was her motivation at that time. A couple of years after, her career took off in swimming and open water; she gained over twenty-four bronze, silver and gold medals in national championships where she won several first place awards as the best swimmer in 400M I.M. and second place in 200M butterfly in 18&U category for three consecutive years in Venezuela!

   A year before she decided to stop swimming, she got the opportunity to represent her state in the most important Juvenile Games in the country in swimming and open water events, where only select people in the country had the opportunity to participate. She helped her state by earning medals as points and helped Venezuela come in fifth place out of twenty four! Way to go Coach Keely!  After moving to the United States with her father, she has come back to Aquatics as a passionate swim instructor. For the past three years she has helped kids and adults conquer their fears and turn them into a wonderful and delightful joy, while sharing her own love for swimming with them. She remembers all the time her beloved coaches helped her, and she inspires kids to believe “you can do anything that you want as long you can keep dreaming for it”.

   She believes her experience and understanding as a competitive swimmer and swim instructor will be useful to help our Thunderbirds swimmers get into a prepared mindset before swim meets, at swim practices and many situations where they need support as athletes to reach their goals. Coach Keely is so excited to be a part of our Thunderbird Family!

 

Jannina Londono, Head Coach, Lead Silver 1 and 2 Coach

Coach Jannina returns for her second-year of swim team. She’s taught aquatics group and private lessons for children of all ages as well as sports classes for young children, and you might have even spotted her as a Winter Camp counselor! Her background as head coach of the Tony Dapolito Aqua Devils summer swim team, who she led to its first summer championship victory in a decade, puts her in a perfect position to coach our Silver teams. She’s versatile, charismatic, and with twelve years of aquatics instruction under her belt, Jannina's heart is in aquatics.

Jannina also has a background in the medical field which she believes assists her coaching in a unique and important way. Jannina has a Bachelor's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in Nursing and Biology. She has worked both in hospital and public health settings and has decided to return to aquatics to marry her passion for the two! She believes her understanding of childhood development, muscle anatomy, and experience in pediatrics really strengthen her abilities as an Aquatic Instructor and Coach. She’s excited to coach the Thunderbirds and help our swimmers reach their full potential.

Contact info: jlondono@mmjccmanhattan.org

 

Michael Orlando, Lead Bronze Coach 

Coach Mike has over 18 years of swimming experience both in and out of the pool. He started swimming at the age of 7 and continued throughout college. He attended St Francis College, where he graduated with a bachelors degree in physical education. After college, he continued his passion for swimming by becoming a dedicated coach for the Trident Aquatic Club.

Coach Mike enjoys working with young athletes on achieving their goals. He has helped swimmers qualify for multiple championships meets like Junior Olympics and Eastern Zones. When Coach Mike is not around the pool he's either at the gym or watching a movie.

He is extremely excited to join the Thunderbirds this season! 

Contact info: morlando@mmjccmanhattan.org

 

Christian Lajara, Lead Junior and Novice Coach

Coach Christian returns for his 12th year at the JCC, where he has excelled as a lifeguard, instructor, and swim club coach. Christian, began his journey at the JCC at the age of 15. After a near drowning experience at the age of eight, his parents enrolled him in swimming classes. That's all it took for him to fall in love with the water and the sport of swimming. At the age of 16, he became a Water Safety Instructor due to his immense desire and passion to teach others the gift of swimming. 

Christian led the JCC’s Swim Like a Fish Swim Club development team which was a program designed to bridge and prepare swimmers for the rigorous training and dedication it takes to swim competitively. As a result of this program over two dozen swimmers have successfully joined a swim team many who are still on the Thunderbirds. He is compassionate but also believes in hard work always beats talent approach. Throughout his 12 years of serving the community and families of the JCC, he discovered that his true passion in life revolves around helping others who are in need and decided to build his career around that. 

He looks forward to returning to his third season with the Thunderbirds.

Contact info: clajara@mmjccmanhattan.org

 

Brett Bender, Lead Junior and Novice Coach

Coach Brett has been a proud member of the JCC Aquatics team for 6 years. Brett fell in love with the water at the age of 9 and spent his childhood in New York city dividing his time between his two athletic passions; baseball and swimming. He excelled as a member of the St. Mary Marlins and the Riverbank Redtails swim teams. Brett attended Stony Brook University where, despite the setback of a knee injury, he maintained his passion for athletics and aquatics. Brett's devotion and desire to keep swimming (figuratively and literally) led him to the JCC first as a lifeguard, then as a swim instructor. He is excited to return to the Thunderbirds for his third season.
 
Brett always looks forward to working with his fellow Thunderbirds coaches to create an environment where each child can have fun, develop competitive technique, and be inspired to be the very best they can be!