Coaching Staff

Jim Ellis

In 1971, Jim Ellis formed the PDR (Philadelphia Department of Recreation) Swim Team which was the first African-American swim team in the country.  Originally located in West Philadelphia at the Sayre Recreation Center, then moving to the Marcus Foster Recreation Center in the Nicetown neighborhood of Philadelphia in 1979. Until 2010, Jim continued to coach swimming at the Marcus Foster pool, with the program qualifying swimmers for the US Olympic Trials from 1992 through 2008. 

In 2010, Jim moved to the newly built pool at the Salvation Army and started the Salvation Army Kroc Aquatics (SAKA) team.  After nearly a decade as SAKA…Jim is bringing PDR back for the 2019 – 2020 season. 

Accolades and Awards:

  • USA Swimming’s 30 for 30 – the 30 most influential people in the sport of swimming for the last 30 years
  • Pride – movie based on Jim’s life
  • International Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fame Inductee 2019


Tracy Freeland

Tracy Freeland was one of Coach Ellis’ first swimmers, beginning with the program in 1972.  At the age of 10, he represented Middle Atlantic Swimming as the first African-American to qualify for the Zone All-Star Team. He was also selected to represent Middle Atlantic in Quebec, Canada in 1981. Coach Freeland later went on to attend Howard University on a full swimming scholarship. At Howard, he was voted team MVP his freshmen year, set multiple team records, and was a member of the Conference Championship team in 1989.  In addition to his Bachelor’s degree from Howard, he also earned a master’s degree in education.

Coach Freeland has been Coach Ellis’s right hand man for the past 25 years. During that time, he has had many age group swimmers ranked in the Top 10 in the country. In addition to coaching swimming, Coach Freeland is entering his 30th year as a Health and Physical Education teacher with the School District of Philadelphia.  In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife Terri, and three daughters Jessica, Taylor and Maddison.