Chris Sheppard - Head Coach/Owner

 

Email: CommonwealthSwimming@gmail.com

 

As an athlete, Coach Chris has been fortunate to train under some of the nation’s great swim coaches. He learned to swim with the University of Florida’s USA Club, now Gator Swim Club, led by Randy Reese. He also trained as an age group athlete with Former American Swim Coach Association (ASCA) President and US National Team Coach Paul Blair at the Little Rock Racquet Club Dolphins.  While training as a distance freestyler & backstroker at the Bolles School under Gregg Troy, the 2012 Olympics US Men’s Swimming Team Head Coach, Coach Chris earned his first US Nationals qualifying times and National Age Group Rankings.

Under Coach Chris' guidance, The Current has placed one athlete on the US National Junior Team and the US World Junior Championship Team, 2 x Olympic Trials Qualifier, 3 US National Qualifiers, 7 US Junior National Qualifiers and 10 Academic All-Americans and the team and individuals have broken dozens of New England records. More than 25% of the team earns New England Top 10 designations each year, and and more than 15% earned Top 100 in the US in 2018.

While performance is important to Coach Chris, it is not the most important. Coach Chris' coaching philosophy revolves around developing the whole individual and community together. High performance is not likely, and not nearly as valuable, when it comes at the sacrifice of strong character. This philosophy is tangible on deck at practice and at meets through the loud, visible support demonstrated by Commonwealth athletes and coaches.

In 2019 Coach Chris was voted "Dorsi Raynolds New England Coach of the Year" for overall club performance by his peers in New England. This was the second time Coach Chris has won such an award; in 2009 he was voted New England Age Group Coach of the year.

Prior to founding Commonwealth Swimming, Coach Chris spent 9 years as the first Head Coach of the CRA Dragons (2006-2015). Under his leadership Coach Chris led the growth from 25 swimmers to 179, with more than 9 New England Records, multiple National Age Group Rankings, Scholastic All-American athletes and National and Junior National Qualifiers. In 2017 Coach Chris was selected as a coach for the Eastern Zone Select Camp.

In 2009 Coach Chris was named New England Age Group Coach of the Year.  He is currently an ASCA certified Level 3 coach and was chosen as a part of the 2011 American Swim Coaches Association Fellows class where his topic of study was “Coaching Boys”. He was a member of the New England Swimming Board of Directors for 7 years, 2 of those years as the Coaches' Representative. He currently sits on the USA Swimming National Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

In his free time Coach Chris enjoys caring for his dogs, live music, game nights with friends and a beautiful night at Fenway Park.


   

Ellen Caruso - Age Group Coach, High Tides Lead Coach

Email: HighTidesCS@gmail.com

Coach Ellen started swimming at the age of five at her local club team. Ellen swam for her club team S.E.A.S. in Brockport, NY. She completed her competitive swimming career after graduating from Niagara University as a Division I athlete where she specialized in the 100 and 200 fly/back.

Prior to joining Commonwealth Swimming, Ellen spent 10 years as a swim instructor and 10 & Under coach alongside of Coach Chris at the CRA Dragons. Ellen is currently a 5th grade Special Education Teacher at a charter school in Somerville. Coach Ellen received a Masters Degree from Lesley University in 2006 in Curriculum Instruction/Literacy and from Simmons College in 2011 with a degree in Special Education.

In her free time, Coach Ellen enjoys cooking, especially Italian.



Mike Prout Jr. - RipTide Lead Coach, Senior Assistant Coach

Email: CommonwealthRipTide@gmail.com

Coach Mike, who grew up in Western Mass, started swimming competitively at the age of 6.  He swam through high school with the Aquabears in Suffield, CT, and at 16 he learned about the Paralympics. Coach Mike won the Phillips 66 Swimmer of the Meet award at his first U.S. Paralympic Nationals in 2002 after winning all 7 events he swam.  From there he went on the compete in three Paralympic Games; Athens, Beijing, and London. He won gold competing the 400m freestyle and bronze in the 100m free during the Athens Games in 2004, and was voted the captain of the U.S. swim team at the London Games in 2012.

While in college Coach Mike swam for the University of Massachusetts-Amherst where he studied Social Thought and Political Economy.  While there, he also swam in the 2007 Parapan-American Games in Rio as the captain of the team, winning 8 medals total, 4 of them gold.  After college, he coached with the Amherst Tritons and for the Williston Northampton School, before moving to the Olympic Training Center to train for the London Games.

Currently, Coach Mike also runs a team of disabled swimmers with Paralympic Sport Club-Boston, which meet weekly and are based out of UMass-Boston.  In his spare time, he likes to relax, cook, and watch movies.


   

Jenna Willis - Age Group Coach, Undercurrent Lead Coach

Email: CommonwealthUndercurrent@gmail.com

Coach Jenna began swimming competitively at eight years old. She was a member of the University of Kentucky Women’s Swimming & Diving team, specializing in the 200 and 100 yard breaststroke events, as well as the 200 IM. In her senior year, Coach Jenna was named team Captain.

Coach Jenna received her BA in Psychology from the University of Kentucky in 2012 and her Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston College in 2006. Coach Jenna is now a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and works full time as the Assistant Membership Director at the Oak Square YMCA.

Coach Jenna has coached swimmers of all ages and provided swim lessons to many young children new to the sport. She has spent the last year as an Associate Head Developmental Coach working with 12 & Unders. At Commonwealth she will be in charge of our Undercurrent program. In her free time, Coach Jenna enjoys going to the movies and swimming.


Rees Collier - Age Group Assistant Coach

Coach Rees began swimming competitively at the age of eight, when he joined the CRA Sea Dragons under Coach Chris Sheppard.  Rees swam for Coach Chris for ten years, including during the inaugural year of Commonwealth Swimming. After graduating from the Boston Latin School and beginning college at Boston University, Coach Rees ended his competitive swimming career and joined Commonwealth as a coach during his freshman year. Rees is currently completing his final semester of college, after returning from a semester spent in London teaching creative writing to English primary school students. In his free time, Coach Rees reads, writes, and plays basketball.


Natalie Giraldi - Age Group Assistant Coach

Coach Natalie began swimming competitively at age nine with the Executive Swim Club in Manchester, NH.  She was a member of the Simmons University Swimming and Diving Team, swimming sprint breaststroke, IM, and relays for the Sharks. In her senior year Natalie was named team captain. It was at Simmons while lifeguarding for the Current that Natalie met Coach Chris and started coaching with Commonwealth her senior year.  Coach Natalie received her B.S. in Exercise Science in 2018 from Simmons and works for Wellable as a Wellness Services Specialist. In her free time, Coach Natalie enjoys cross country and downhill skiing, baking, and spending time with friends and family. 


Shahzad Mumtaz - Senior Assistant Coach

Coach Shahzad started swimming competitively at the age of 8. He was extremely fortunate to have swum through middle school and high school under Coach Chris, and is very excited to be back coaching with him.

 

He graduated from Williams College in June of 2019 with a B.A. in Biology and Public Health. At Williams, he was a member of the Men's Swimming & Diving team and specialized in the 200 IM, 400 IM, and 200 butterfly. In his senior year, he was voted team Captain.

 

Shahzad loves working with the Senior group and eagerly shares his experiences as a collegiate athlete in the hopes that his swimmers also aspire to swim in college. In addition to coaching, he is applying to dental schools and working as an online tutor for students studying for the Dental Admissions Test. In his free time, he enjoys running, listening to podcasts, and hanging out with friends.


Stephen Anderson - Age Group Assistant Coach

Coach Steve began swimming at age 8 for the Concord NH YMCA team and juggled swimming and baseball until his junior year of high school. After high school, he went to Saint Michael’s College and swam all four years being named Captain his senior year. After graduating in 2017 with a degree in Economics and Math, he found a job in Boston and connected with Chris and the commonwealth staff shortly thereafter to help the team where they might need him.

Coach Steve self describes as a swim nerd and enjoys keeping up to date on the swimming world in New England, the US, and around the world. When he is away from his desk job and the pool deck, coach Steve enjoys biking, hiking and skiing.