Our staff of Master SWAMIs comes with impressive pedigree.
Head Coach and Co-Founder of Race Swami Matt Finnigan grew up in the swimming hotbed of Northern California's Bay Area. Swimming competitively for more than 16 years for clubs straddling the Bay Area's peninsula, Matt's most notable tutelage in the sport came under the direction of the late Kevin Perry, whom he competed for six years at the Los Altos Aquatic Club. "Swimming for Kevin Perry, I learned more than just about swimming," Finnigan recalls. "I learned about life. 'KP' had a way of drawing every ounce of talent out of every one of his athletes, all the while teaching them lessons about hard work, dedication, effective communication, learning to work together... and striving for excellence no matter who you were or what you were going to do with your life... I think I learned more from KP than I ever learned from any of my high school teachers. That's just who he was. He wasn't just a swim coach... he was a life teacher."
Matt Finnigan, Executive Director and Head Coach of Race Swami
Matt tends to bring this same style of coaching to his daily regimen of training. Though he rarely will raise a voice to his athletes, Matt goads the kids into giving 100% at all times. The wealth of high-intensity training that Race Swami administers, is a training style borrowed from the philosophies of many of the Bay Area's most successful swim programs over the decades. "We emphasize technique above all else," Matt says. "Some people may mistake that for being 'easy' but there's nothing easy about striving for perfection, and having the courage to change aspects of a stroke when the time drops are still coming. But this is how an individual continues to grow in this sport... to discover new things about themselves. To be aware that there's a need for efficiency as much as there is a need for power...There's a certain amount of art and science when it comes to the execution in this sport."
Matt has blended his swimming talents with his love for entrepreneurship to form Race Swami, founded in January 2011. Before his years in coaching, he played a vital role in a number of Silicon Valley start-ups, some of which prospered and others of which failed. "You learn so much more from your failures than you ever do your successes," he notes. "I tell our kids this all the time... because I'm living proof. But all you need is the courage and drive... Sure, you very well might crash and burn along the way. But it's part of the learning process! It's part of life. But so long as you continue to strive to give your very best, you will get there as long as you're willing to endure." Aside from the mentorship under Kevin Perry, Matt also served valuable time with Bay Area-based coaches Travis Wyckoff, Ed Samuels, Nort Thornton and the late John Felix. In recent years Matt spent time in the Florida Keys seeking advice and ideas from Gary Hall Sr. who he tabs one of swimming's most knowledgeable coaches in the profession.
Pam Chamberlain, Head Age Group Coach of Race Swami
Coach Pam Chamberlain began her coaching career in Southern California with the NGSV Gators. Coach Pam grew the team from a small age-group program to a perennial top three 12 and under team at the SoCal Junior Olympics. While coaching there, Coach Pam coached numerous National Top 16 and Top 10 swimmers, zone qualifiers, zone Champions and future Jr. National Team members, National Team members and Olympic Trial qualifiers. During this time Pam was named a Zone Coach for the SoCal Team and was awarded SoCal - Orange Section Age Group Coach of the year in 2006. In 2008 Coach Pam moved to Utah and worked with the Brighton High School Swim Team, during this time both Boys and GIrls were 5A State Champions. Coach Pam also coached at Cottonwood Heights Aquatic Team where she again was privileged enough to coach numerous state champions and zone qualifiers. While coaching in Utah Pam was Zone Coach in 2010 and 2011 and Age Group Chair for the Utah LSC in 2010 and 2011. In 2011 Pam moved to California to become the Division Director for the 13/14 Age Group at the Mission Viejo Nadadores. During this time Pam was able to learn from and coach with some of the Nation's best coaches and swimmers. She was also able to reconnect and coach many of her former NGSV Gator swimmers. In 2012 Pam moved to Germany and then onto London in 2015. During this time Coach Pam was able to volunteer during the summers of 2013 and 2014 for Race Swami where she decided this was where she wanted to work when she returned to the US.
Coach Pam's philosophy for Age Group swimmers is have fun, teach the basics including stroke technique and good habits, and keep swimming exciting! She is hoping to bring this enthusiasm to all the Race Swami swimmers.
Pam graduated from Central Connecticut University with a degree in education, is married with 2 children and one beautiful grand-daughter.
Hillary Hermansen, fondly nicknamed "Hillarity" by the team, has been swimming ever since she can remember and loves to swim more than life itself. Hillary grew up swimming in the small town of Kamas, Utah, where she started coaching as an assistant for the local pre-competition swim team. She loved the kids and loved coaching. After three years of dedicated service to the team, she left Kamas to see the world. Hillary lived in Brazil for over a year, speaking fluent Portuguese, and returned to America a short time later. Now she studies English Teaching at the University of Utah. Hillary adores helping the SWAMIs open their minds to all the possibilities in life, and in becoming the very best swimmers they can be. She is always up for playing the occasional game of Ultimate Frisbee, Dodgeball, or Kickball with the SWAMIs and coaching staff. Hillary can be found on deck working with the RS2 Groups at both the Steiner West site, as well as the Northwest Rec Center. She also assists Coach Matt with the Junior Swami group every Friday afternoon. Hillary has become known for her creativity and keen ability to get SWAMIs to attain things they've never done before. For her, these Race Swami kids are the best ever!