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Rocket Fish Coaches

Hank Wise

Title: Founder and Director of Swim Focus and SWIM Long Beach, Head Coach of Rocket Fish Swim School, Head Coach of SWIM Long Beach Masters.

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. 

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. I 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. 

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 NCAAs 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. 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 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 14 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.

In the last few years the Aquatic Capital of America has awarded me three separate awards: The Dick Miller Waterman Award in 2016; The Male Athlete of the Year in 2017; and The Performance of the Year in 2018.

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) was 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 2010, I solo swam the Catalina Channel (from Catalina to the Palos Verdes) in 8 hours and 7 minutes and became the fifth 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 9pm and progressively the ocean calmed down. We arrived in Catalina around 4am. Our paddlers were brothers Matt and Ben Landis. My brother Greg again supported us with his vessel, and what a straight line he drew!

In the subsequent years, I have crossed the channel on a steady basis, accruing seven total crossings. Each swim is its own adventure and the ocean variables (tides, currents, wind, sea animals, water temperature) are different every time.  In October 2018, I swam from Catalina (Arrow Point on the West End) to Point Vicente in Palos Verdes in record time for males: seven hours and 55 minutes.  That being my seventh crossing is also an all-time record for the most crossings by an individual.

Certifications and Memberships: United States Masters Swimming Recognized Coach; American Swim Coaches of America; Level 2; CPR, First-Aid, AED, Lifeguard Certified; Lifetime member of USA Swimming. Lifetime member of Catalina Channel Swim Federation. Lifetime member of the Santa Barbara Channel Island Swim Association. Member of Long Beach Century Club.

Family:  I am from a close family with two older brothers and one older sister. I am 13 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, 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.

Courtney Speakman

I grew up in Springfield, OH, and went to Wittenberg University for a BA in Psychology and Exercise Science. In Long Beach, I'm attending CSULB for a Master's degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology. I started swimming when I was 8 years old for the Springfield Y and swam there for 11 years. After, I went to Wittenberg, where I swam another 3 years. I enjoyed distance swimming the most: mile, 1000, and 400 IM. When I decided not to swim my senior year of college, I couldn’t imagine not being around a pool every day, so I coached for the Y team I grew up swimming for. I coach for the kids! I hope that I can have a positive impact on the kids not only in the pool, but in all aspects of life. I enjoyed my years as a swimmer because of the transformational coaches I had, which is what I hope to pass on to the kids I coach. When I’m not by the pool or studying sport psychology, I am hanging out with my friends, spending a day at Disneyland, or relaxing watching TV.
 

Courtney Conlan

I am from San Jose, but have lived in Long Beach for the past few years as I go to school at CSU Long Beach. At CSULB, I study Nursing and Child Development & Family Studies! I am also a captain of the Women's Ultimate Frisbee team, a club sport. I started swimming when I was four years old, at a cabana club in the Bay Area. I swam at that club for 15 years and for two years in high school. I started coaching at that pool when I was 17 because I wanted to share my love of swimming and was looking for a deeper connection with the team. Fortunately, I found a team in Long Beach (Rocket Fish!) that I could continue coaching at here in SoCal. In addition to coaching, going to my own practice, and school, I also enjoy spending time with my friends, doing puzzles, running, and watching TV. 
 

Aleah Corbo

My name is Aleah Corbo, and I am a senior at Wilson High School. I have lived in Long Beach my whole life and started swimming in elementary school. I started swimming for Rocket Fish at 10 years old and started coaching for Hank at the age of 13. I am now 17, and I am also the team captain of Wilson High School’s Varsity Girls Surf Team. I volunteer at the aquarium on weekends in addition to coaching for Hank twice a week. I coach because I love helping kids become water safe and watching them create an appreciation for the sport of swimming at a young age.
 

Elise Miner

From: Eugene, OR

High School: Keystone International High School (Online Homeschool)

I began swimming when I was six because my grandmother was an open water swimmer and it was very important to her that I was comfortable in the water. I fell in love with the sport. I swam on many different teams across the country and made amazing friends. I was an All-American in three events at the Junior College I attended, where I was captain of the swim team and competed for the water polo team both years. While I swam with the Mission Viejo Nadadores, I swam at the La Jolla Rough Water Gatorman race three times as well as Nationals. I am an Anthropology Major at CSULB with a minor in Linguistics, and I am looking foreward to graduate school. I am also really passionate about scuba diving, kickboxing, and good books. I enjoy coaching because the kids are so much fun. I love experiencing swimming with them from the coaching perspective. I hope I can impart the love for swimming that all my coaches passed onto me. Swimming gave me valuable life skills like hard work, dedication, and time management as well as life-long friends I still cherish today.
 

Hailey Stephens

I'm from Lakewood and attend California State Long Beach. I started swimming when I was 8 years old and now coach because I love seeing the kids' hard work pay off and watching the memories they make. When I'm not at work or school, I enjoy traveling the world and hiking.