Coaches and Directors

Coaches and Directors
Coaching Staff
Jacob Thielen Head Coach

Jacob has coached at PAAC for several years and is now the lead group coach for Senior Select and Senior. He has experience coaching all ages and ability levels and most recently led the Gold Group from 2013-2021. While overseeing Gold, he coached dozens of JO swimmers,  Zones qualifiers, JO champions, a Zone champion, District Champions, and has had swimmers qualify for both Sectionals and Futures. In his first year of overseeing the Senior and Senior Select Groups, Jacob coached multiple District Champions, dozens of States and Senior Champs Qualifiers, a Senior Champs champion, a Senior Zones champion, and had multiple swimmers earn Sectional and Futures cuts. Additionally, he coached a swimmer who achieved both a Winter Junior National cut and a Summer Junior National cut.

Jacob previously served as an assistant coach for the Parkland High School Varsity Swim Team, where he assisted in coaching several swimmers at both the District and State level.   He also was formerly the head coach of Kaybrook Green Hills Summer Swim Team in Orefield.

Jacob holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from James Madison University.  He went on to earn his Juris Doctorate from Villanova University School of Law. Outside of coaching, Jacob is a Partner at the law firm Miller Thielen, P.C., a general practice firm with offices in Fleetwood and Allentown.  He currently serves as Scholarship Coordinator of the ABE Swim League.  Jacob swam for both PAAC and Parkland High School where he was a four year varsity letter winner, and competed at both the district and state level.

You can follow him on Twitter @PAAC_CoachJT

Cody Wimmer Director of Swimmer Development

Cody has been around the pool his entire life. He started lessons at Emmaus Aquatic Club at the age of four and then went on to train and compete for the club throughout college.  He competed for Emmaus High School where he was fortunate enough to learn how important teamwork and hard work were to being on a successful team.  He continued swimming in college at Seton Hall University where he was Co-Captain for his Junior and Senior year, leading the team to their first two Big East Championships.  Cody believes that the mental aspect of the sport is the key to a successful, happy swimmer and is excited to work with young athletes at developing the skills needed to be successful both in and out of the pool.  Cody tries to emphasize the importance of improvement and strategy in races and believes that "progress over perfection" is the way to motivate young athletes.  Outside of swimming, Cody currently works for a medical device company's data analytics department focusing on Data Visualization. He is also pursuing his MBA from Moravian College.

Mike Owens Director of Facilities/ Assistant Coach

Coach Mike is no stranger to the pool, having been around competitive swimming for many years. Whether it be club, high school, or college level swimming, the sport has been a constant in his life and he is thrilled to continue that growth with PAAC. His experience has allowed him to acquire a unique perspective on training and approach to the sport.

As an age group athlete, Coach Mike embraced swimming and set several local records in his hometown area of Reading. After suffering a leg injury in high school, Coach Mike turned to swimming as a means of recovery and therapy both physically and mentally. After competing at the collegiate level at Albright College, he was a top performer on the men’s team, winning four consecutive Men’s MAC Conference Team Championships from 2002 thru 2006.

Most recently, Coach Mike’s resume has included Head Age Group Coach for EMAC as well as assisting the Emmaus High School Team to many District Championships. For the past two years, Coach Mike has coached in his home district of Southern Lehigh, by assisting the High School team and SOLECO team. His philosophy for age group swimming has been to, first and foremost, engage the young athlete through structured enjoyment before mastering an exponential disciplined edge. His greatest enjoyment is seeing the athletes grow, flourish and take the discipline of this sport to college, career, and life.

Coach Mike enjoys leading a life of health and fitness as well as spending time with his wife, Jackie, and their two young sons, Jack and Joey.

Tjasa Ritchey Lead Gold Group Coach

Tjasa Ritchey is a 1993 graduate of Denison University, where she was an NCAA 18-time Division III swimmer over her four years and a NCAC 200 backstroke champion in 1993. During college summers, Tjasa coached at ACE Aquatics in Mount Kisco, New York as well as for a country club team in Louisville, KY.  Upon graduating from Denison, Tjasa spent two years teaching elementary children (kindergarten and then first grade) at a private school outside of New York City. During this time, she started training for triathlons. She then moved with her husband, Julian, to Jacksonville, FL where she became an A.C.E. Certified personal trainer and taught gymnastics.

Tjasa moved to the Lehigh Valley in 1997. She continued to be a personal trainer and she was the assistant men’s and women’s swim coach at Lafayette College from 1998-2001, all while pursuing her triathlon career, where she eventually turned professional. Tjasa is a five-time Ironman finisher, four of which were Ironman Hawaii (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000), and one Ironman Lake Placid (2000). She then took a long break from everything to raise her four children children. Tjasa currently  serves on as secretary of the  Board of Directors for The Ballet Guild of the Lehigh Valley, Inc. She is happy to be back on deck coaching Instructional and Stars groups and helping out wherever she is needed.

Jose Avila Lead Silver Group Coach
Jose calls PAAC a “home away from home.” He began swimming at the age of 10 when he joined PAAC and continued with PAAC all the way up to college. As a swimmer,  Jose was the first swimmer from Northern Lehigh High School   to go on and compete at the PIAA and state level. He primarily swam distance events where he received runner up in the 500 and bronze in the 200 free for District XI. He continued his swimming career for two years at Tufts University. 

Now,  Jose is a recent graduate from Tufts University with a Bachelor’s in Biology and Child Studies & Human Development.  Jose is works at a behavioral institution as a certified EMT when he is not coaching on deck, and plans on attending medical school in the near future. He is extremely excited to work with the children on fine technique and fast swimming. As well as, he expects to use his knowledge in child development to minimize common swimmer injuries that begin at a young age and teach valuable lessons.

Steve Kelly Lead Bronze Group Coach

Coach Steve returned to PAAC in February 2015, to coach both the Bronze group and the STARS group. He immediately re-established goals for both groups, and expectations were far exceeded by season’s end.

His first tenure at PAAC lasted from April, 2005 to June, 2010. During that time, he coached many Middle Atlantic Junior Olympic and Elite Meet qualifiers, including some champions. Steve had one swimmer attain TOP 16 status. Steve has also coached adults over the years as he guided the Westend Racquet Club Masters swimmers from November, 1994 until September, 2013. He competed in Masters swim meets as well, starting in 1992 until he retired in 2007.

As a child, Steve competed in club swimming while growing up in Springfield (Delaware County) PA, starting at age 7 until he graduated high school. He swam first for the Community YMCA in Upper Darby, PA then for the Suburban Swim Club in Marple-Newtown, PA. Steve’s passion for swimming goes beyond the pool as he served as Committee Chairman for the Delaware Valley Masters Swim Committee from September, 2002 until September 2006. He also served as Westend Masters Swim Meet Director from 1993 to 1997.

Professionally, Steve has been is sales and sales management since graduating Lehigh University in 1980. He is married, with 2 children (twin daughters) and 2 grandchildren.

Jackie Thieman Lead STARS Group Coach

Jackie is new to the coaching staff for the 2021-2022 season and brings plenty of knowledge and passion for swimming. She started competitive swimming at age 5 and quickly found her love for the sport. Jackie was a YMCA State Champion and National finalist in her youth. In High School, she won county titles in the 100, 200, and 500 freestyles and was a High School State finalist in the 200 and 500 freestyle events. 

Jackie continued her swimming career at Bucknell University. In her Freshman year, she set the team and pool record in the 1,000 freestyle. Throughout her college experience she earned First Team All Patriot League honors all four years and won the Patriot League title in the 200 butterfly her junior year. She assisted her team in winning their first conference titles in 2003 and 2004 then led them as a captain to victory in 2005. 

Upon graduating college, Jackie went on to earn an MBA with a concentration in Sport Management from Seton Hall University. During this time, she was an undergraduate academic advisor and coached a local swim team, helping age group swimmers reach their goals. Professionally, Jackie has been working in online higher education but she is excited to get back into coaching and spread her love for the sport. Personally, Jackie enjoys spending time with her husband, Jake, and three sons: Teddy and Scotty (PAAC swimmers), and Jay. 

Katie Steele Lead Instructional Group Coach

This is coach Katie’s first year with PAAC. Katie currently serves as assistant coach on the Southern Lehigh Varsity Swim Team. She is a 2010 Southern Lehigh High School Graduate and Southern Lehigh High School Varsity Swim Team Alumni. She has also coached at EMAC, taught swim lessons at Swim-in Zone, and is currently the head summer swim coach for SOLECO Stingrays. Katie has her Bachelor’s degree from Penn State and Master's degree from Lehigh University. She is currently an Elementary School Teacher in the Southern Lehigh School district.

Alex Otero Assistant Coach

Coach Alex has been with PAAC for several years. Alex started with PAAC as a Learn-to-Swim instructor while swimming for Parkland High School. After graduating from Bloomsburg University in 2016, Alex returned to PAAC and was Head Coach of the Silver group for 3 years until he took a break to focus on his career in health care specializing in Cardiac Electrophysiology. Alex brings many years of experience in competitive swimming to PAAC including superior strategy in the all four strokes, the 200 yard events, and the distance events. While coaching the Silver group, he coached many JO qualifiers, JO champions, MA Zone qualifiers, and coached at the 2017 Easter Zones Team.

Alex holds a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science from Bloomsburg University, where he was a 4-year student-athlete, NCAA qualifier, 800 Freestyle Relay record holder, and to this day holds 8 All-Time Top 10 times. He likes to use that knowledge to strengthen and improve each athlete to the best of their abilities. Outside of the pool, Alex works for Medtronic, a leading medical device company where he is a clinical specialist in pacemaker and defibrillator technology including implantation of these devices and field troubleshooting. In his spare time, Alex likes to spend time with his soon-to-be wife, Kate, swim, play golf, and play with his two dogs.

Megan Suhocki Learn to Swim Coordinator
Megan is both a PAAC and Parkland High School Swim Team Alumna who competed at both District and State levels. Outside of PAAC she locally swam for Kaybrook Green HIlls during the summer and later went on to coach for Brookside Country Club. During her high school years swimming at PAAC she was an instructor in the Learn to Swim program and also assisted coaching PAAC's STARS program. Following high school she continued swimming at the University of Vermont. After a shoulder injury and reconstructive surgery, she returned to the area to continue her education earning her BFA from Kutztown University. Megan began working with children and families as a part of Valley Youth House's respite care program. With a great passion for social service and love of working with children, she furthered her work in the behavioral health field. Megan enjoyed many years of work as therapeutic support staff for two behavioral health agencies serving both Lehigh and Northampton counties. She is excited to be reunited with the PAAC family as Director of the Learn to Swim program. When not on the deck of the pool , Megan enjoys spending time with her husband, Jim, and their two daughters, Ainsley and Inara. They often immerse themselves in the arts, sports, and anything outdoors.  With great enthusiasm, Megan hopes to promote water safety and comfortability, engage the community, and facilitate children into a love for the sport of swimming.
Board of Directors
Justin Tewksbury President
Steve Evans Vice President
Jonathan Wozniak Secretary
Mayra Avila Treasurer
Jennifer Cheplick Board Member
Jason Coombe Board Member
Tori Fahrney Board Member
Jeff Fleischaker Board Member
Brian King Board Member
Jillian Mikovich Board Member
Andrea Soehnlen Board Member
Sara Solomon Board Member