Swim Team Staff
Kristen Lavery Competitive Team Head Coach

Coach Kristen has been the head coach of the NAC Sharks since Fall 2019, and she has remained committed to elevating the level of the team while providing a swimmers with a solid technical foundation in swimming. She has always stressed a "quality-over-quantity" approach to swimming and the importance of proper technique. 

Coach Kristen grew up locally, swimming for teams in Bucks, Montgomery, and Mercer county. Her top swimming achievements include qualifying for PIAA Districts, PIAA States, and YMCA Nationals, and achieving All-American Relay honors. She also has experience swimming at the collegiate level. Kristen has been involved with swimming and aquatics for over 25 years, including 10 years of piecemeal coaching experience at various YMCA, USA, and summer/recreational teams. She is a USA-certified coach who has attained Level 3 achievement and Level 5 education from the American Swim Coaches' Association (ASCA), meaning that she has taken extensive coaching coursework and placed swimmers in the top 10 nationally for their age. Currently, she is serving on a task force within ASCA to elevate the level of education for coaches nationwide.

Upon coming to the NAC in Fall 2019, Coach Kristen and Charlene made USA Swimming sanctioning a top priority. The team was recognized by USA Swimming in October 2019, starting with the 2020 season. After only 6 weeks of competing, 80% of the team-- mostly first-year swimmers-- qualified for Bronze or Silver championships. Despite challenges brought on from COVID-19, the team actually doubled in size for the 2020-2021 season. In an otherwise strange year where team members were limited to 2-lane meets in the NAC pool, the number of swimmers achieving championship qualifying times tripled, including a 5-fold increase in Silvers qualifiers. Two swimmers achieved Junior Olympic times in multiple events, and one achieved AAA times. At the 2021 MA LC Junior Olympic meet, one swimmer qualified for finals in 3 events and achieved a top-10 LSC ranking.

Prior to coming to the NAC, Coach Kristen spent nearly 4 years at the Hunterdon County YMCA where she worked mainly with top age groupers before taking over the senior groups in Spring 2018. At HCY, she more than doubled the number of qualifiers at high level meets (YMCA Silvers/States, Junior Olympics, Eastern Zones, Sectionals). Under her guidance, the 12&Us crossed the 100-point threshold at YMCA states in 2018, and the 13&Os did the same in 2019-- both for the first time since the 2014 season. In March 2019, one of Coach Kristen's swimmers became HCY's first national qualifier since 2015, and another became HCY's first state champion since 2013. In total, Kristen was coach of record for over 65 team records during her time with the team.

Coach Kristen's philosophy is that building trust in the swimmer-coach relationship comes first, and with hard work and a proper technical foundation, any swimmer can achieve new goals. By day, Coach Kristen works as an Associate Director of Clinical Content at a pharma agency in New Hope. She lives in Flemington, NJ with her husband, NJ 101.5 news anchor Patrick Lavery, and their toy poodle, Archie.

Kirk Kiernicki Assistant Coach (AG2 and up)

Kirk (aka "Coach Dad") has been involved with the sport of swimming for too many years to count. As a teenager, he swam for Jersey Wahoos and placed at his college conference championships. He coached swimming and diving in the summers as well.

Kirk's interest in swim technique renewed when his daughter (Coach Kristen) started in the sport. They spent many afternoons in the late 1990s watching underwater swim videos (recorded on VHS!) and analyzing top swimmers' strokes in each frame. Kirk was an active parent volunteer for Kristen's teams, serving as a starter and stroke and turn official. For more than a decade after Kristen graduated high school, Kirk worked as an official for PIAA. Kristen has always turned to him for stroke advice with her swimmers. During the 2018-2019 season, Kirk volunteered with Kristen's senior group at HCY, and he can be credited with a lot of the group's success. With his keen eye for detail and technique, he has been a valuable component of the NAC Swim Team coaching staff. 

Kirk's technical mindset (used for IT during the daytime) has been an asset to former HCY and current NAC swimmers, and we can't wait to see what crazy drills he comes up with next!

Melissa Wald Lead Developmental Coach

Coach Melissa has been teaching swimming for 10 years and is Lifeguard, LGI, and WSI certified. During her three year employment at the NAC, Coach Melissa has worked in many positions, including front desk staff, lifeguard, swim instructor, and aquatics coordinator. With the creation of the developmental team for the 2020-2021 season, she is now excited to add the role of lead developmental coach to that list! In 2019, Coach Melissa was recognized as the Ultimate Lifechanger of the Month at the NAC for her talent and dedication, which speaks to the kind of person and worker she is.

Coach Melissa has turned a love of water into a career. She has taught lessons to swimmers ranging in age from 6 months to 60+ years, written lesson curriculum, and trained other instructors. She is enthusiastic to work alongside Coach Kristen and other coaches to bridge the gap between the NAC Swim School and the NAC Swim Team, specifically in curriculum development and specially designed practices to prepare swimmers for the competitive setting.

In her free time, Coach Melissa enjoys supporting her local sports teams, including the Flyers, Eagles, and Phillies, and travelling internationally. She has made it a goal to explore a new country every year and has successfully visited 25 countries in 26 years!

Melanie Hoover Lead Age Group 1 Coach

 

Coach Melanie began her coaching career over 20 years ago and is well known throughout the Bucks County area for her work with young swimmers.

She coached for 10 summers at the Newtown Swim Club where both of her sons competed. She then went on to coach for the Lower Makefield Township Swim Team, where she has currently been employed for 11 seasons. Coach Melanie has also coached at Spirit Swim Team in Newtown, as well as the Tri-Hampton YMCA Swim Team. 

We are thrilled to have Coach Melanie on our staff as our lead Age Group 1 coach beginning with the 2021-2022 season!!

 
Savannah Fuhrmann Assistant Coach (all groups)

Savannah began swimming at the age of 3 and has swam on teams for a total of eight years, some speed and some as a synchronized swimmer. Throughout this time Savannah received an abundance of awards for her placement in meets, plaques and varsity letters for her accomplishments. She was a member of the Pennsbury High School Varsity swim team for 4 years.

After years of swimming, Savannah began to share her love of swimming with others by teaching swim lessons. She has five years of experience teaching a wide variety of kids from 6 months to 15 years old. However, Savannah is very excited to learn new skills and improve her teaching alongside Coach Kristen and others to help all kids fall in love with swimming like she has.

Savannah not only has a passion for swimming, but fitness in general and she enjoys hiking, weight lifting, and riding her bike in summer. In her relaxing free time, Savannah loves reading or listening to music.

Emily Rinaldi Assistant Coach (all groups)

Coach Emily started swimming at age 5 for a local summer team in her hometown of Staten Island, NY. After falling in love with the sport, she began swimming competitively for Trident Aquatic Club at the age of 7. She was an active member of the Susan E. Wagner High School varsity swim team where she was captain her senior year.

Coach Emily has channeled her love for the sport and teaching throughout her 7 years as a swim coach and lesson instructor. She began teaching swim lessons in 2014 and has continued ever since. The past two summers she has been a part of the Hillside Swim Team (Staten Island, NY) staff as a full-time coach.

Coach Emily is currently a student at The College of New Jersey where she studies Speech-Language Pathology and participates in the rowing team. In her free time, she loves hiking, reading, and spending with her family and friends!

 

Maria Spitzer Assistant Coach

Coach Maria is a math teacher at Hamilton High School West and the head coach of the West High School Swim Team. This past summer, she was a coach at LMT. Coach Maria has experience teaching lessons to and coaching swimmers ranging from three to eighteen years old. 

Coach Maria has been swimming competitively since age five. She started her swimming career at the Morrisville Swim Club. Some of her best memories growing up were at LBSL meets in the summer. In high school, she swam for the Pennsbury Varisty HS team, THY, and Brookside Swim Club. Then, Coach Maria swam as a collegiate athlete at The College of New Jersey. At TCNJ, Maria received the New Jersey Athletic Conference All-Conference Award and qualified for the NJAC All-Conference Team in 2012. She also earned the TCNJ Scholar Athlete Award.

In her free time, Coach Maria likes to paint, draw, read, and stay active by swimming and going on walks. 

Paul Hamnett Assistant Coach
Kathryn Mireles Assistant Coach

A swimmer for Lower Makefield Township (LMT) summer team from age 8, Kathryn continued her swimming career year round at Tri-Hampton YMCA as well as swimming for the Pennsbury High School varsity team. In College, Kathryn swam 4 years at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. After returning to the area, Coach Kathryn now works as a speech-language pathologist and is the Head Coach of LMT swim team in the summers.

Charlene Lawton Swim Team Administrator

 

Charlene is in her third year as Team Administrator to the NAC swim team! Her previous experience includes being a 5 year Board of Directors member for Penn Aquatics, her last 2 years as President. She is currently Vice President for the Lower Makefield Township summer team, Secretary for the Suburban Aquatic League, and a parent board member of the Pennsbury High School Swim Team. She is a certified USA Swim Coach, a USA Operational Risk/Safety Director, and has completed training in USA Club Team Management.

Charlene became heavily involved in the sport as her children became competitive swimmers all the way through High School and College. Her husband is a USA swimming Stroke and Turn Official and certified USA Starter.

Charlene is a Pre-school teacher in Bucks County, and can also be seen at the NAC teaching parent/child and preschool swim lessons, working at the front desk, and at the Escape resort. She loves to see the progress of swimmers throughout the season, and especially enjoys helping new swim parents to understand and navigate through all the complexities of the sport!

Board of Directors
Jen Storz Aquatics Director