Health First Fitness Club Aquatics: Where Education Meets Fitness 

Coaches and Staff

Coaching Staff
Jennie Charlesworth Head Youth Coach; Swimming & Water Polo

Jennie began her swimming career at the age of five with the AAA, (Anaheim Aquatics Association) in Orange County. She continued swimming through high school where she also found a love for water polo. She attended San Jose State University on a water polo scholarship and in her senior season SJSU ‘topped out’ at the #5 slot in the Nation.

After graduating from SJSU with a B.A. in Child Development Jennie starting her coaching career at Saint John Bosco High School (Bellflower, CA) and Saint Joseph High School (Lakewood, CA), where she coached several CIF qualifying athletes from 2001-2008.

In 2008 Jennie moved to Saint Paul Minnesota to coach at Macalester College a NCAA Division III institution (2008-2015), where she was the Head Water Polo Coach, Assistant Swim Coach and Aquatics Director. While at Macalester Jennie coached athletes from all over the world including: Denmark, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Serbia, Sweden, South Africa along with those from many different states within the US.
Jennie coached 45 All-Conference athletes, 26 All-American athletes, two Regional MVP athletes, one NCAA Champion diver and was awarded the coach of the year title 4 times (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014) and also received the Coach of the Tournament award in 2011.  Jennie also coached the University of Minnesota's club water polo team and ran the only non collegiate water polo club in Minnesota. 

Her knowledge of the sport coupled with her understanding of child development creates an environment where her coaching is designed to reach the ‘whole child’ working to build not only their skills but also their self-confidence, inspiring them to be their best, in and out of the pool.  

Jennie was born and raised in Anaheim and attended Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana.  Now in her spare time Jennie coaches water polo at swimming at Mater Dei Catholic High School in Chula Vista.

Steve Wiggs Head Masters and Senior Coach

Steve Wiggs has coached multiple levels of swimming in the South Bay for 26+ years.  He is an ASCA Level 3 coach, has coached for multiple USA Swimming teams, and was also the head coach at Bonita Vista and Eastlake High Schools.  

While a high school coach, Steve won a total of 28 Mesa League championship banners, and was voted SUHSD Coach of the Year 10 times.  As a club coach, Steve coached on two San Diego-Imperial Western Zone Championship teams, four San Diego-Imperial All Star swim teams, and was twice nominated for Coach of the Year by the San Diego American Swim Coaches Association.  In addition, his swimmers have held many San Diego-Imperial Swimming records, along with national rankings.  

He holds a Bachelor Degree in Psychology, and is  completing his Masters Degree in Education.  Coaching has allowed him to combine his background in education, expertise in swimming, and motivational skills to inspire any level of athlete to achieve their goals.

Steve is known as a stroke technician.  He believes technique, flexibility, and strength are important parts of building injury free swimmers, and he believes in the late Richard Quick’s philosophy of teaching posture, line, and balance at all levels for success.  His attitude  is consistent on and off the deck: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing”, which fits perfectly with masters swimming.

Steve was born and raised in Chula Vista, and currently resides in Eastlake with his wife Ronne, and boys, Micah (19) and Keli’i (14). His spare time is spent with his family traveling, and watching his boys play baseball and football.

Jacqueline O'Hagan Youth Performance Coach Silver

Coach Jacqueline started competitive swimming at 6 years old at the YMCA in Thousand Oaks, CA where she first fell in love with the sport. After two years, she moved on to swim for Conejo Simi Aquatics (CSA) now Conejo Simi Swim Club (CSSC) where she swam for 12 years. During that time, she was a four year varsity letter holder, scholar athlete and CIF qualifier. After swimming competitively for many years, she took a break and started working at Daland Swim School where she became a Head Instructor and Head Swim Coach working with swimmers of all levels and abilities for the next six years. Jacqueline decided to get back into training and joined the Ventura College Swim Team where she became a scholar athlete and All-American swimmer. After completing her for two years with Ventura College, she was offered to swim at the University of California Irvine, before the program was eliminated due to budget cuts. Coach Jacqueline stayed at UCI and graduated with a degree in Cognitive Psychology with a minor in biology.

In addition to coaching at Daland Swim School, Coach Jacqueline has a total of 15 years of experience including coaching for Gold Level clubs in the Southern California LSC. She became the Head Age Group Coach for Aquazot Swim Club and later the Pre-competition Director for the Mission Viejo Nadadores working under Coach Bill Rose and Coach Mark Schubert. She was also selected four times to be a coach for the Pacific Coast All-Star Team which took the top 8 swimmers in California for each age group to compete against Oregon, Northern California and Washington. She is excited to be able to join the SOL Swim Team here in San Diego!

Aside from coaching, Coach Jacqueline has worked with children with ADHD, Autism and other developmental disorders and has extensive experience in Cognitive Behavior Therapy. She has created behavioral programs to help swimmers succeed at practice and translate those skills into life. To continue her passion beyond the pool, she will be starting a Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at Alliant University this Fall.

Alberto Gandara Youth Performance Coach Bronze/Silver

Coach Alberto's experience with swim started as a Swim Instructor for South Bay Family YMCA.  Through the instructor course he learned different ways to learn the different strokes.  Through his experience as a swim instructor, he gained additional knowledge of the strokes by reading books on stroke development.  He did this in the pursuit of becoming a better instructor. 
 

Before he taught kids how to swim, he tried to make myself a better swimmer.  He took lessons at a young age, and participated in water polo clinics as well.  Though he grew up around the pool, he lacked basic swim technique.  His thought was that 'if I could make myself a good swimmer, and I could find ways to get faster so that I am competetive against those who have swam since they were young, then I can help others do the same.'

 

After recording his swims, and making adjustments to his technique he became faster.  He taught himself the rules of competitive swim, and the longer he taught kids, the more he was able to  developed my own techniques.  After practice and refinement of teaching techniques, he received awards and recognitions for swim instructor of the year and was the highest requested instructor at the YMCA.  Eventually, most of the kids he taught made it to the competitive swim team.  To the point where half of the kids on the team had been taught by Alberto all the way through passing try outs. 
 

After many years of being a swim instructor, parents of the team really wanted him to became a coach to assist Vicente Andrade who had grown up in the swim world all his life and was highly accomplished.  When he began coaching with Vicente he gained experience in helping kids of all ages in develop competitive swimming skills. 
 

Alberto competed for Southwestern College swim team,  his specialization is Butterfly and Breaststroke.  He also enjoyed swimming the 200 IM and 400 IM. 

 

His goal as a swim coach is to turn all less experienced swimmer, with messy technique into  swimmers that are competitive against those who swam in Junior Olympics at an early age.

 

In my eyes, there is no reason why success in any sport should be unattainable.  With committment, hard work, discipline, and proper teaching, a slow swimmer can become fast, and a fast swimmer can always become faster.  There is no perfect swimmer.

Dan Kovar Diving Coach

Dan has a long history and involvement with diving in San Diego County.  Dan started diving at the age of 8 and was a competitive diver in age group, Junior Olympics, seniors, and masters diving.  His competitive career spanned over thirty years, claiming many championships along the way. He grew up in the South Bay and as a high school diver, for Hilltop High School, he was three time Metro League Diving Champion.  

Dan started his coaching career in 1977 serving as Assistant Dive Coach with Chula Vista Aquatics Association. CVAA produced many AAU and U.S. Diving Champions as well as Junior Olympic Champions.  After retiring from coaching age group divers, he focused his attention on high school diving.  He has spent the last 30 years coaching at the high school level in South Bay.  Dan is currently, and has been for 27 years, the Dive Coach at Mar Vista High School.  He is very proud of the dive program at Mar Vista as they have consistently produced top divers in the South Bay, many of which have gone on to successful collegiate level diving careers.

Rich Giffen Youth & Masters Coach

Rich Giffen is a local home grown San Diego swimmer, and has been involved in aquatics now for over 25+ years. He began swimming locally at a young age and worked his way through multiple age group teams and programs, and eventually into NCAA collegiate swimming. Even after collegiate swimming, he has continued to be involved on many different levels of aquatics. He worked for 14yrs in San Diego as a beach and ocean lifeguard, where he spent years training in the ocean, and competing for the City of San Diego teams. He has coached local high school teams and groups throughout the county, and is still a competitor in United States Master’s Swim defining himself as a lifelong swimmer.

Rich graduated locally from SDSU with a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science, and in addition, holds multiple degrees including a Doctor in Education Leadership, a Masters in Cross-Cultural Studies, four different teaching credentials, and various fitness and training certifications. When not coaching, he works as an Education Specialist and Resource Teacher in public education working with special needs students, and as a mentor teacher for the local school district.

Considered a lifelong swimmer and non-stop student of the sport, he is also a practitioner of the former NCAA and Olympic coach Richard Quick swimming philosophies. Rich enjoys using the combination of his teaching and education in conjunction with swim experience and knowledge, to promote lifetime fitness and injury free swimming regardless of a person’s aquatic background or level of success.

Still a competitor for United States Master’s Swimming, he is often found training either with the Sol Master’s Swim Team or in the gym here at Health First Fitness Club. His focus is on inspiring lifelong swimmers, improvement of techniques, and learning to be a well-rounded student of the sport. Rich never has a bad day, is always good, and is passionate about sharing his love of fitness and swimming, knowledge of aquatics, and benefits of hard work and training with a purpose.

Amanda Trulock Masters Coach
Amanda is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico and grew up swimming on a summer league team, a USA team, and her high school team. During high school she coached the younger kids on the summer league team and was given the Head Coach position of a local high school team a couple of years after she graduated high school. After two seasons of coaching the high school team, she took a position with a USA team coaching the Age Group swimmers (14 and under) and coached them for two years. After a few years she took a break from coaching to explore other career opportunities. After moving to San Diego at the end of August, she started a position within a vacation rental company but is excited to be apart of the SOL Aquatics program as a Masters coach. 
Sereena Castillo Masters Coach
Gabby Jaramillo Performance Coordinator Swim Lessons

Gabriella (Gabby) Jaramillo is an Aquatics Performance Specialist Coordinator, Swim Instructor and Membership Advisor at Health First Fitness Club.

Native to San Diego and fluent in Spanish, Gabby swam competitively for over 10 years. She swam for four years of varsity swim at San Diego High School and continued her competitive swimming career for two years at Grossmont Community College.

For over six years, Gabby was a lifeguard and swim instructor and it was there where she found her passion for educating. Her love for teaching swimming lessons quickly crossed over into the world of academic education. She is passionate about inspiring children into being not only the best students they can be, but to also be the best people they can be.

She is currently going into her Senior year at San Diego State University studying Elementary School Education. In her free time she loves to visit Ocean Beach dog beach with her boyfriend and her dog Minnie.

Gabby is very thankful and excited to be able to continue her path of education while working at Health First Fitness Club!

Julia Sanchez Performance Coordinator Swim Lessons

After playing and enjoying two years of Water Polo for Southwester College, Julia decided that she wanted to help others  learn to enjoy water. In 2004, she took the lifeguarding class and the water safety instructor class in and that same summer started her Aquatics career at Las Palmas Pool as a Lifeguard and Swim Instructor.
When the summer concluded, she returned to Southwester College as a lifeguard and a swim instructor, where she helped to expand  the Learn to Swim program at Southwestern College until the pools were closed for construction on the new aquatics center.

During the two years of construction to complete the new aquatics center at Southwestern College, Julia worked at the San Diego Naval Base as a Lead Lifeguard and at Las Palmas Pool as a Swim Instructor and Lifeguard.  

During her time working at the San Diego Naval Base she earned her certification as a Lifeguarding Instructor and Certified Pool Operator.  Julia is also an Open Water certified Scuba Diver. She is planning on pursuing her Associate Degree’s in Psychology.

In Julia’s free time, she loves spending time with her nieces and nephews.  She also loves taking them to outdoor adventures like hiking, biking, camping, and swimming in the bay. 

Falon Leszczynski Regional Aquatics Director

Falon began swimming competitively at the age of six for her local swim team in San Diego and went on to compete in both swimming and water polo she received first team honors and played water polo in the junior Olympics for southern California.

She attended Springfield College where she majored in Human Services with an emphasis in community youth and development. Prior to joining EXOS, she served as an Aquatics, Sports and Family Program Director on
the YMCA leadership team opening two state of the art YMCA facilities in San Diego which included; health & fitness centers, multi-pool aquatics facilities, gymnasiums, teen centers and a demonstration kitchen.

In 2015 she became the manager of the Las Palmas Olympic pool in National City which had previously been shuttered. She expanded outreach to the community by offering ‘learn to swim’ lessons to every third grade student in partnership with the National City School district. Her strong relationship building skills bridged a connection with the Olympic Training Center resulting in the Las Palmas Pool hosting the US Olympic National Swim Team along with Olympic swimmers from Brazil, Israel and Australia.  Falon also serves as the Regional Aquatics Director for EXOS, supporting several locations.

She resides in San Diego with her husband Lenny and daughters Addison, Paytyn, Morgan and Brooklynn. Falon is an avid football fan and in her spare time enjoys watching her daughters play softball and spending time with her family.