Michael Peterson

ACAC Head Coach

Email: [email protected]


Michael is entering his seventh season with ACAC.  During the years prior to returning to ACAC, while in Colorado, Michael was the head coach and aquatics director of Cherry Hills Country Club where they took the program from 30 kids to 120 kids in 4yrs and became a league contender.  After moving on from Country Club coaching Michael did stints as a volunteer coach at Arapahoe boys high school swim team, assistant coached 4 years for Chaparral High School Girls and 3 years for Grandview High School boys where they saw their first individual state champion.  All the while coaching for Colorado Stars club team and working full time for Newfield Exploration (oil and gas).

At Colorado Stars Michael was the top assistant to Todd Schmitz.  While with the Stars he helped in the development of Olympic Gold Medalist, Missy Franklin, and Olympian, Kara Lynn Joyce.  As the head age group coach, Michael, was a major contributor to the Colorado Stars winning 6 consecutive Colorado state titles and 2 Junior National Championship team titles.  He was instrumental in the coaching of 5 athletes at the 2012 Olympic Trials.  Seeing multiple kids set state records and go onto be nationally renowned athletes.

Since returning to ACAC Michael has overseen the Pre-Senior Group for a year and a half where the Pre-Senior group saw the foundations of building a Senior program.  While at the Pre-Senior level ACAC had multiple swimmers qualify for the Sectionals, ranked top 20 athletes in the country and had athletes place as high as third at Sectionals while in the Pre Senior Group.  Michael has also spent a year and a half in Fort Dodge, being instrumental in establishing the site as well as starting up the Junior College Swim program at Iowa Central Community College.  While at Fort Dodge the site went from 40 kids to 90 kids in 4 month span and had multiple athletes move to the Sectional and Futures level.  Michael also spent a season as the Head Fort Dodge High School girls coach that saw its first individual state qualifier for the first time in 6yrs and qualified multiple relays in a single season.

In 2015 Michael returned to the Ames site as the acting Head Coach of all of ACAC and began overseeing the greater organization while leading the Ames site Senior program.  Since taking over as the acting Head Coach ACAC has gone from an unranked program nationally to a Bronze Medal Club (top 200) in 2017 to a Silver Medal Club in 2018 (top 100 program).  The club has seen success from top to bottom in having more Junior National Qualifiers to the summer of 2019 when Michael and the rest of his staff finished second as a program for the first time ever at the Long Course State Meet, having more qualifiers and more individual state event entries then any other team in the state.  ACAC has also seen its first individual Olympic Qualifier while on ACAC and has since sent kids onto the D1, D2 and D3 collegiate levels who have seen ongoing success.

In 2008-2009 Michael was voted the Colorado 5A Boys coach of the year and also in 2017-2018 ACAC was voted the Senior program coaching staff of the year.

One of Michael's Goal as the Head Coach is to continue to develop all athletes from top to bottom of our program.  "I want to pride ourselves in our program as being known for developing our own athletes." That we want to send kids off into the rest of the world knowing that they have the tools and mindsets needed to be confident and accomplished in life beyond swimming.

As an athlete, Michael was a standout prep swimmer at Ames High School where he earned 9 high school All-American certificates.  He continued his swimming career at the Denver University where he not only served as team captain, but also set 4 school records.  Michael is married to Jill and they live on their farm in Stratford with their four kids, Wesley, Savannah, Archie, and Owen. 

Ben Utesch

ACAC Head Pre Senior Coach

Email: [email protected]


Ben has been coaching for ACAC since 2014 and in that time he has worked as the Senior Assistant coach, Age Group Head Coach and is now in his first full season as the Pre-Senior Head Coach. Since joining the ACAC coaching staff he has coached multiple individual state champions, relay state champions, and team record holders. As the Head Age Group Head Coach the 9-10 year olds have also placed 2nd overall 3 times at the state meet as well. Prior to coaching, Ben started his swimming career with ACAC back in 2001, at the age of 10. Ben set many former team records, won multiple state titles both on relays and individually.


In high school Ben swam for the Ames High Little Cyclones from 2005-2009. He was a 4 year All-Conference swimmer, 3 time All-State qualifier, and 3 time All-American qualifier. His Junior year Ben finished 3rd in the 100 Butterfly and 4th in the 100 Backstroke, his Senior year he finished 2nd in the 100 Butterfly and was the state champion in the 100 Backstroke.


After graduating from Ames High School Ben attended Oakland University, where he swam Division 1 for four years and helped the Golden Grizzlies to 4 conference championships. The Golden Grizzlies finished the season ranked 19th in the country his senior year. Ben graduated in 2013 with a Business Management degree.


In 2020 he also began assistant coaching for both the AHS girls and boys swim teams, helping the girls to another state title in 2020 and a runner-up finish in 2021. In 2021 Ben also became the Head Coach and Aquatics Director for the Ames Golf & Country Club program.


Aron Nakama

ACAC Head Age Group Coach

Email: [email protected]

Aron has been with ACAC for nearly 20 years, starting as an assistant in 2001, serving as Head Coach (2002-2011), coaching part time as Head Novice Coach (2015-2022), and now serves as Head Age-Group Coach (2022-present). Aron also trains coaches for the Cyclone Swim School (2016-present).

Aron’s philosophy is to teach the love of the sport and have kids enjoy racing. Aron’s return to coaching through the developmental groups has inspired his coaching mentality to emphasize life skills such as goal setting, becoming a good team mate, and developing a healthy competitive spirit. Aron’s goal is to help kids become great people.

During Aron’s time as Head Coach ACAC produced 3 National Qualifiers, 4 Junior National Qualifiers, 9 ISI State Records, numerous High School State Champions, and led the team to a 2009 Runner-up finish at the Winter ISI Senior Championships. Aron has coached at National and International level meets including World Championships Trials (2009), and Short Course World Championships (2004). Aron also committed time to developing swimmers in the community by serving as Site Supervisor for Cyclone Swim School (formerly SwimAmerica) from 2002-2009. 

As a swimmer, Aron represented Iowa State University (1998-2001), and is a former Wisconsin High School State Champion (1998) in the 100 free. Aron competed at 7 Junior National meets for his club and also competed at the 1996 Summer Senior Nationals.

Aron is currently working at Iowa State University as a Teaching Lab Coordinator and is working on his PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience.

Aron is married to Myra Mendoza and they have three kids: Naya, Kano, and Keo.


Nick Matthews

ACAC Assistant Pre Senior Coach

Email: [email protected]


Ali Ford

ACAC Assistant Novice Coach

Email: [email protected]

Ali has been coaching with ACAC for multiple years and also works full time at Cornerstone Church. She is in her final year of Nursing School and will graduate in May of 2023. She grew up in Mason City, Iowa and had a successful high school swimming career with multiple state titles. Next, she went on to swim at Iowa State University where she had successful seasons competing in breaststroke and IM, and graduated in 2015 with a degree in Political Science. 

She is married to Bennett and they have a son named Mason. Her and her family love living in Ames and giving back to the community. Go Cyclones!

Sara Halbur

ACAC Assistant Age Group Coach

Email: [email protected]

Sara has been coaching with ACAC since March of 2021. She started with Novice and Novice Plus and has now moved onto Age Group. During her swimmign career she won Iowa High School All American and swam collegiately for the University of North Dakota. She loves being able to teach kids and watching them grow in and out of the water. She and her husband Brian live in Glidden, Iowa and have 2 children with a 3rd one expected in December 2022. 


Sophie McCorkle

ACAC Assistant Age Group/Senior/Masters Coach

Email: [email protected]