The coaching staff of Orinda Aquatics has extensive experience at all levels of swimming, strong ties to the community, and a deep passion for coaching and working with children. The team is run by its two co-founders, Ron and Don Heidary. Both have had tremendous success at the recreational, high school, and USA Swimming levels. They have a combined 80+ years of coaching experience and are ASCA Level 5 certified at both the USA Swimming and High School levels.
In 1984 with just twelve swimmers, Ron and Don created the Polar Bear Fall Swimming program for summer-league swimmers. Over the years, the program has grown to over 350 Fall Swimmers in the Lamorinda area. From the Fall Program, in 1995, they created the year-round team, Orinda Aquatics. From a humble beginning with twenty recreational swimmers, the year-round program has achieved remarkable success. In the year 2000, Orinda Aquatics was possibly the youngest and smallest team to ever win Junior Nationals (short course in Anchorage, Alaska). Orinda Aquatics qualified twenty swimmers for the long course Junior Nationals that year and had the second most entries in the meet. And with less than eighty swimmers, the team has also won Sectionals, Far Westerns, and the Pacific Swimming Age-Group Championships, and had twelve (current or former) OA swimmers qualify for the 2008 Olympic Trials, with two - Kim Vandenberg (800 Free Relay) and Peter Varellas (Water Polo) making the U.S. team and receiving medals. Other notable team finishes are: finishing third at the 2012 long course Junior Nationals (twenty-five points out of first), finishing second at the National Club Swimming Association Junior Nationals (NCSA) at Stanford in 2004, and winning the Western Zone Senior Championship Meet (men & women) at Clovis in 2019.
Averaging less than 150 swimmers, Orinda Aquatics has been a perennial Silver Medal Club in USA Swimming's Club Excellence program and is a Level 4 team in USA Swimming’s Club Recognition Program (only the second in the Western Zone to reach this level). Orinda Aquatics consistently finishes among the top “smaller” (under 200 swimmers) clubs in USA Swimming’s Virtual Club Championships, at first or second in scoring.
For each of the past twenty years, the team has averaged eight to twelve Junior National swimmers, over forty Sectional qualifiers, and six to ten Scholastic All-Americans. 2017-2018 was perhaps the best year for Orinda Aquatics with 16 Junior National swimmers, 25 Futures swimmers and 50+ Sectional swimmers. Ron and Don have coached over 200 high school All-American swimmers and twenty-five Olympic Trial qualifiers, with three men making the cut in 2018-2019.
While coaching the nationally competitive local summer-league, Ron and Don won a combined twelve OMPA (Orinda Moraga Pool Association) and ten Contra Costa County championships. As high school coaches in the North Coast Section (NCS), they have won twenty-one North Coast Section Championships and have over sixty top-three team finishes. Orinda Aquatics swimmers, during the 2013 season, held nine of the eleven men’s NCS records with times of 53.39 100 Breast (a National Record), 1:47.5 200 IM, 47.8 100 Fly, 20.2 50 free, 44.2 100 free, and 47.6 100 Back, and the three relays: 200 Medley, 200 Free and 400 Free.
The team has very little “burn-out” or attrition with 95% of senior swimmers continuing in the sport and with 90% of Orinda Aquatic’s graduating seniors go on to swim in college (and all want to). The culture is extremely positive, driven by humility and respect, and the team does not travel with chaperones. The graduating class has averaged a GPA near 4.0. The overriding philosophy of OA is putting Character First in swimming and in life. Ron and Don have spoken on this topic (character and culture) for The American Swim Coaches Association and for clubs and coaches associations nationally and internationally. ASCA has published their manual on “Putting Character First”.
The coaching philosophy of the team is based on efficient training, discipline, integrity, teamwork, and close personal relationships, with the objective of elongating and maximizing the career of every swimmer. With all of their swimming success, the swimmers remember Orinda Aquatics most for the positive impact it has had on their lives. It is truly a "big picture" philosophy at Orinda Aquatics as life lessons are employed every day, in every aspect of the program.
Orinda Aquatics is uniquely fortunate to have a coaching staff of individuals who have a deep passion and talent for coaching and working with children. Each member of the staff has ties to the origin of the team, either as a coach or a swimmer. They are all extraordinary individuals and exceptional coaches and unduly committed to creating the best program and experience possible.
Ron Heidary, Co-Head Coach/Founder (Ron@orindaaquatics.org)
Ron has overseen the thirty-member National Group for OA throughout the teams’ history. His ability to develop high-level athletes and create an unprecedented leadership culture has driven OA’s national success. In addition to being Co-Head Coach and Co-Founder of Orinda Aquatics, Ron is the Head Coach of Campolindo High School in Moraga, and was the Swim Team Director for Sleepy Hollow Swim & Tennis Club in Orinda. Campolindo High School has dominated North Coast Section (NCS) swimming over the past twenty-five years winning an unprecedented sixteen NCS titles and producing over 100 High School All-Americans. Campolindo High School Swimming is regarded as one of the top high school programs in the nation, finishing as the top public high school in the United States and third overall in 2013. Ron was voted California Coach of the Year in 2006 and has been named the Contra Costa Times Swimming Coach of the Year numerous times, is an NCS Honor Coach, and received the Positive Coaching Alliance Double Goal Award in 2013 (only three recognized nationally). At the summer recreational level, Ron has won an unprecedented ten championships at the Contra Costa County Swim Championships with Pinole and Sleepy Hollow. He also ran the prestigious Canyon Swim School in El Sobrante for five years. Ron was also voted the Pacific Swimming Age-Group Coach of the Year for 1998. He has been a presenter at several workshops and clinics for swim coaches around the country, including the American Swim Coaches Association. Ron is a 1984 graduate of UC Berkeley.
Don Heidary, Co-Head Coach/Founder (Don@orindaaquatics.org)
In addition to being Co-Head Coach and Co-Founder of Orinda Aquatics, Don is the Head Coach of Miramonte High School’s Varsity Swim Team. Miramonte has been one of the most successful teams in North Coast over the past three decades, winning five NCS Championships and placing in the top three twenty-seven times. In 2019 the Miramonte Women’s team finished 4th in the California State Championship meet. Don also coached the recreational swim team at Meadow Pool in Orinda for fourteen years, helping develop that program into the dominant Lamorinda team, winning seven OMPA Championships. Don is a past North Coast Section Honor Coach, East Bay Coach of the Year, Pacific Swimming Age-Group Coach of the Year, and 2013 Positive Coaching Alliance recipient with his brother Ron. Don was the ASCA Board President for two terms and is on the Pacific Swimming Board of Directors overseeing Club Development. Don has spoken at the ASCA (American Swim Coaches Association) World Clinic as well as internationally (China, Europe, Canada) on culture and character in swimming and youth sports. He also supports the swimming efforts of Swaziland, Africa, and has traveled there twice and presented the country’s only ASCA Coaches Clinic. He is a 1984 graduate of UC Berkeley. In addition to coaching, Don worked as an Institutional Equity Trader for twenty years at Charles Schwab, Robertson Stephens, and Eastbourne Capital Management.
Matt Ehrenberger, Junior 2 Coach/Program Director (Matt2Coach@comcast.net)
Matt Ehrenberger brings nearly thirty-five years of coaching experience and dedication to Orinda Aquatics. His history includes building County championship teams, and training countless County champions and finalists. Matt has been instrumental to the development and success of Orinda Aquatics, as well as the summer-league teams at Pinole and Sleepy Hollow. Matt’s responsibilities at OA include coaching the Junior Group and overseeing the entire age-group program, and running the Sleepy Hollow site of the Polar Bear Program. Matt is also the program director of OA’s seasonal programs including Fall Swimming, High School Pre-season, Spring Clinics, and the Fall Jamboree, and he oversees membership of the team. At Orinda Aquatics, Matt has coached numerous nationally ranked age-group swimmers, as well as Pacific Swimming record holders. The vast majority of the national swimmers who have gone through the team, originated in the Junior group with Matt. He has a highly disciplined and methodical approach to stroke and race development. With a relatively small group (averaged less than fifty swimmers in the Junior Group), OA has been a perennial top team at JO’s and Far Westerns.
Matt began his coaching career with the Pinole Seals recreational swim team and was an integral part of their seven Contra Costa County Championships, becoming the most successful rec team in County history. As the head coach of Sleepy Hollow Swim & Tennis Club, Matt won additional county championships and has remained among the top OMPA and County teams for twenty years. Matt’s teams are as well-prepared and coached as any. Matt also has experience at the high school level and has taught at Canyon swim school. He is an ASCA Level 3 Coach and a 1990 graduate of Sacramento State University with a degree in Physical Education.
Marc Cavallero, Junior Coach/Program Head (email@example.com)
Marc grew up in Moraga swimming for the Moraga Tennis and Swim Club from ages 4 through 14. At 15 he moved on to year-round swimming with Orinda Aquatics where he was a team leader, a Team Captain, and a national-level breaststroker. He swam for Orinda Aquatics, as an original member, through high school and went on to swim for Gregg Wilson at UC Santa Barbara where he was the Team Captain in his last year (2002-2003). His coaching career began at age 17 as an assistant coach at MTSC (Moraga Swim & Tennis Club). He coached MTSC for six seasons, the last two as Head Coach. After graduating, Marc worked for two years at Aqua Stars Swim School in Lafayette, teaching learn to swim lessons, while receiving his Master's Degree in Sport Management from the University of San Francisco. His current involvement with OA includes coaching the Junior Group with Matt, the Senior Group, and he runs the Soda site of the Polar Bear Fall Swimming program and the high school pre-season program with coaching responsibility for over 200 swimmers. Marc is the current Head Coach of Moraga Ranch, and has run the programs at Moraga Country Club, Springbrook (two second place County finishes) and LMYA. Marc also has extensive high school experience as the Head Coach of Acalanes High School where he coached numerous All-Americans.