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, including the importance of proper technique and well-designed focus sets. 

Coach Kristen grew up locally, swimming for teams in Bucks, Montgomery, and Mercer counties; her top swimming achievements include qualifying for PIAA Districts, PIAA States, and YMCA Nationals, and achieving All-American Relay honors. 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 (highest attainable) 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. 

Under the leadership of Coach Kristen and Charlene, the NAC Sharks team has grown considerably, from a 35-person recreational team in the Fall of 2019 to approximately 120 swimmers of all levels. In only three years, the NAC Sharks have established themselves as an up-and-comer in the Middle Atlantic LSC with strong presences at championship meets, including medalists at Silvers, Junior Olympics, and Eastern Zones. The 2021-2022 season saw the implementation of the IMR/IMX cap recognition program to promote well rounded athletes in AG2 and above. In the program's first year, more than 80% of swimmers in AG2 and above achieved IM Ready requirements, including 100% in the senior group, and 9 athletes (8 seniors, 1 junior) completed IM Extreme requirements. 

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) and coached the first YMCA national qualifier in 4 years and the first state champion in 6 years. 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.

Kirk Kiernicki Lead Junior Coach

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!!

 
Emily Rinaldi Assistant Coach

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 time with her family and friends!

 

Molly Rooney Assistant Coach
Molly Rooney is a former teacher and current high school counselor at West Windsor-Plainsboro HS South.  She grew up swimming with Hamilton Aquatics Club in NJ.  She continued swimming in college at Bucknell University where she earned All Patriot League honors all four years.  She was the head coach of the Hamilton Hurricanes summer swim team for 5 seasons.  She was the Assistant Coach of the Varsity Boys and Girls swim team at WW-P HS South for 8 seasons.  Although she loves playing the role of "Swim Mom¨ for her daughter Maura (Age Group 3), she is excited to be back on the deck in a coaching role!  
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.

Shannon Neary Assistant Coach
Coach Shannon began swimming competitively at age 8 with Scarlet Aquatics in her hometown of Bayonne, New Jersey and continued with the sport until her sophomore year of high school at age 16. She continued swimming and taught lessons on the side throughout the rest of her high school and college career and began teaching lessons at the NAC during the fall 2022 season.
 
Coach Shannon is currently a student at The College of New Jersey studying communications, music, and speech pathology. In her free time, she loves to play music and spend time with her family and friends!
Paul Hamnett Assistant Coach
Charlene Lawton Swim Team Administrator, Assistant Coach

 

Charlene is in her fourth year as Team Administrator of the NAC swim team.  Her previous experience includes being President of Penn Aquatics, Vice President of Lower Makefield Township summer team, Secretary of the Suburban Aquatic League, and parent board member of the Pennsbury High School Swim Team. She is currently a USA Operational Risk/Safety Director, serves on the USA Mid Atlantic Administrative Review Board, and has completed training in Club Team Management. She is also a USA Assistant Coach (Mom Coach), specializing in getting young swimmers lined up for their events, and handling all sorts of things on and off deck so the other coaches can focus on coaching!

Charlene became heavily involved in the sport as her children became competitive swimmers at a young age and continued all the way through High School and College. Her husband is a USA Stroke and Turn Official and 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 main desk, and at the Escape resort. She loves to see the progress of swimmers throughout the season, and especially enjoys helping new swim parents (and swimmers) to understand and navigate through all the complexities of the sport!

Board of Directors