Coaches and Directors

Coaches and Directors
Coaching Staff
David Bentz Head Coach

Even though most know Dave as a swimming coach, he began his relationship with the swimming world in the water. Swimming in high school, Dave found success in the 200 and 500 yard freestyle that took him to the University of Minnesota. Before graduating with a degree in physical education and child psychology, Dave had already started making his mark as a coach. He not only helped start the ABC Aquatic Club (Anoka, Blaine, and Coon Rapids), Dave also became manager and assistant coach at the Olympic Training Center (OTC). While working at the OTC, he gained invaluable experience working with multiple Olympians and Olympic coaches – notably George Haines, a seven-time coach of the Olympic team.

Dave took his knowledge of swimming and became head coach of the Bloomington Aquatic Club, and within his six-years turned the Bloomington Aquatic Club around from a struggling club to a championship program. Next, Dave teamed up with John Thomas to run the first ever coach owned club in Minnesota: Marauder Aquatic Club, winning age group titles, sending athletes to junior nationals, senior nationals, and the Olympic trials. With that level of success, it’s no surprise that Dave was recruited to coach at the newly opened University of Minnesota Natatorium with the Gopher Swim Club; his success continued with him sending swimmers to senior nationals, and taking one athlete from the state to the world level.

After an attempted retirement from the swimming world, the siren song of swimming brought Dave back to once again coach at Northern Lights Aquatics (formerly ABC Aquatic). Dave went on to found our Great Wolf Swim Team in 2004 and once again found himself master of rapid success, coaching athletes to achieve: state records, national records, Olympic trial qualifiers, NCAA individual titles, and a 13-year old NCAA record.

We are honored to have David Bentz as our founder, head coach, and living testimony of our mission to help all swimmers maximize their potential.

 

Jason Smith Head Age Group Coach, Asst. Senior Coach

This will be Jason’s 12th year coaching club and High School swimming. As a swimmer, he found national level success where he swam Backstroke, Breaststroke and IM events. Some of his highlights include winning USA Junior Nationals in the 200 backstroke, placing top 16 at US Nationals in both backstroke events, selected to multiple US Olympic Developmental Camps at Colorado Springs, 4-time Oregon High School state record holder in the 100 back, as well as back to back state champion in both 100 Back and 100 Breast in his Junior and Senior years (the first in the country to complete this combo). Jason swam for the University of Florida and then later transferred to the University of Minnesota where he graduated with a BS in Sport Management. He has been trained and mentored by some of the world’s best swim coaches.

Some of Jason’s coaching highlights include: 

  • 15 National Age Group Top 10 times 
  • 2 USA Junior National Qualifiers both at the age of 13
  • MSHSL 5AA Section Coach of the Year
  • 3 High School All American Times
  • Several State and Central Zone Champions as well as state record holders.  
  • Has coached 4 swimmers selected to attend USA Swimming Central Zone Select Camp
  • 4-time lead coach for the Minnesota Zone Team

Jason’s coaching philosophy is based on providing meaningful experiences to his athletes while enhancing their skills and values in life through sports. He emphasizes kicking, technique and IM training which allows individuals to develop into well rounded athletes. He believes that in order for an athlete to realize their full potential, they must master both the mental and physical sides of the sport. We're glad he's part of our team! Go WOLF!

Lana Yackel Senior 2 Coach

Lana started swimming at the age of 10 1/2 for the Bloomington Aquatic Club. She started on the novice team and quickly moved up the ladder to the A team in less than a year. Her first Champ times were in the 50 free and the mile. Coach Dave came along when she was 13 and made her swim miles upon miles upon miles. She had mostly Zone times throughout her age group experience and was ranked top 16 in the nation in her distant events. 

 

Lana qualified for the State Meet all 3 years swimming for Burnsville High School back in 1981-1984. She placed in the top 8 in each event and swam the butterfly leg, her junior year, on the 200 Medley Relay with her sister, Lisa, breaking the record for a championship win. She also achieved All American Status.

 

Her swimming career continued at Saint Catherine's for one year and one season at Oral Roberts University. She began teaching private swimming lessons at the age of 21, worked for Flagship Athletic Club in Eden Prairie, Council Oaks Learning Center in Oklahoma and LifeTime Fitness in Champlin and Fridley. She also assisted the Bloomington Aquatic Club, Northern Lights Aquatics and the Maple Grove Muskies. 

 

Lana coached the Pups and Trackers from 2004-2008 and returned in 2015 after her kids graduated from High School. She is a wife, mom of five adult children, grandma and a group fitness instructor/personal trainer for the past 31 years. She loves working with the Hunters and says, "It's bitter sweet when I have to let my swimmers move to the Alpha Leaders group because I feel like they're my own!"

 

We are happy to have had Lana as a coach for so many years! Her coaching style is loved by all her swimmers!

Patrick Underhill Hunters and Alpha Coach

We are thrilled to have Pat as a Great Wolf coach as he enters his 18th year of coaching!

 

As an athlete, Pat was a 7-time NCAA All-American, National Qualifier and US Open competitor. His specialties were sprint freestyle and butterfly. He developed a love for the sport of swimming early on and knew he would be a coach from age 12.

 

Pat has been a Head Coach / Head Age Group Coach and has been involved in technical aspects with multiple swim clubs around the state. He has worked with all ages and ability levels, from novice to Olympic Trial athletes. He was also named MINNESOTA COACH of the YEAR twice!

 

Believing that technique is the foundation, Pat sees his role as setting up swimmers for long term success. Most importantly, he strives to provide an atmosphere for young people to enjoy the process, to have fun, and to take pride in hard work. His goal is to walk the pool deck looking for ways to actively coach and to connect with each swimmer every day.

 

Pat is excited to work with Great Wolf athletes and we are excited to have him as part of our coaching staff!

Luke Johnson Pups and Trackers

Luke Johnson grew up in the Elk River Area and has been an avid swimmer his whole life.  He started swim club at 7 years old and competing ever since.  Luke achieved Zone times as a youth, swam at high school state for Elk River, swam, dove and played water polo at St. John’s University.  He also competed in US Masters Swimming earning 3 age group nation championships in the 1650.  

Luke started coaching in 2001. He has years of experience coaching all levels.  In 2010, Luke was named Minnesota Swimming Development Coach of the year for the Hopkins Hurricanes. He currently leads the Blake / Providence Girls Swim and Dive team and the Cooper Boys team.  Luke is an Ironman and focuses on his athletes being physically ready and mentally prepared for practice and competing. His philosophy is swimming should be about fun, personal improvement, and team success!

We are excited to have Luke coaching with us! GO WOLF!!

Board of Directors