Coaches and Directors

Coaches and Directors
Coaching Staff
Keira Cruz Head Coach/Senior 1 Coach

Keira is an American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA) Level 5 coach with a long history as a swimmer and coach at Lakeland Hills YMCA. She began swimming at LHY at age 5 and over the years became a five-time LHY National Team qualifier and Top 16 scorer at Nationals.  She went on to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where she earned a swimming scholarship and served as a team captain for two years. After earning her degree in Sport Management, she returned to Lakeland as a member of the coaching staff working with all age groups. In 1996, Keira took over as Head Coach of LHY Swimming. Since then, the program has produced many YMCA National, Junior National, and Senior National qualifiers. Keira has also coached several individual and relay YMCA National Champions, several Olympic Trials qualifiers, and Junior National Champions. She is the President of the Northern New Jersey YMCA Swim League. Keira was elected to the YMCA National Coaches Committee in 2007 and currently is serving her 3rd term.  She is very proud of the winning tradition and long history of being a reputable program that Lakeland Hills swimming has become. The team has won many YMCA state and regional titles, including a full sweep in 2000 & 2005.

Some of Keira’s coaching highlights include: winning YMCA National Short Course Coach of the Meet in 2011; YMCA National Short Course Coach of the Year in 2006; LHY Girls team earning 7th at 2012 Y Nationals; LHY Boys team earning 2nd at 2005 & 2012 Y Nationals; LHY team earning 4th place combined points at Y Nationals in 2012; coaching 5 YMCA National relay champions in 2003, 2005, 2017; placing 15 swimmers over the years in the YMCA National Altitude Training Camp in Colorado Springs; coaching Abby Fisher & Luke Papendick to the 2012 Olympic Trials; coaching Brian Elko to the 2000 Olympic Trials in the 100 Back; coaching Luke Papendick to a USA Swimming Junior National title in the 100 back; coaching Abby Fisher to a YMCA National title in the 200 breaststroke; coaching Jesse Cohen to a YMCA National title in the 400IM; coaching Gary Grant to six YMCA National Titles; coaching Michael Gross to a YMCA National title in the 100 back; coach of the 2000 National YMCA Altitude Training Camp; working with Mark Schubert and Eddie Reese at the Longhorn Swim Camp in Texas; coach of three New Jersey Zone Teams; coach of the USA Swimming National Age Group Camp Staff for two years; published article in the ASCA Newsletter about the college scholarship search process.

Sara Bias Super Squad Head Coach

Sara began swimming for Cedar Lake in Denville at age 5, swam for LHY for 11 years, Morris Knolls for 4, and continued her swimming career with Gettysburg College as a distance Freestyler and 200 Butterflyer. 

Sara has a B.A. in Political Science/Public Policy from Gettysburg, and a Masters in Secondary Education from Johns Hopkins University. She currently teaches 9th Grade Writing at KIPP: Newark Collegiate Academy in Newark, NJ. She also is currently the Head Coach at Smoke Rise Swim Team in Kinnelon, NJ. 

Sara has been coaching seasonally with LHY for the last 4 years, then assisted Sean with the 13/olders, and now will be assisting Carrie with the Super Squad groups. She has a passion for working with high school students as a teacher. Sara hopes to continue instilling values of hard work, dedication, time management and growth mindset in LHY swimmers, which are traits that helped her become successful in her life post Lakeland Hills. 

 

Lauren DePietro Age Group 4 Coach

Lauren is a sophomore at Ithaca College majoring in Speech-Language Pathology. She attended swim lessons at LHY when she was younger and then went on to swim competitively for MCSC and Parsippany Hills High School. Lauren has experience coaching younger age groups through her time spent at MCSC. She is also currently a swim instructor at the Y.  She is excited to help the AG4 swimmers improve in the pool and hopes that they too are excited about coming to practice and motivated to improve. 

 

Matt Elko Senior 2 Coach

Matt grew up swimming on Lakeland Hills and knows about its tradition. He is a former LHY National Team member, YMCA National champion, and current team relay record holder. He came back to Lakeland after coaching at the FISH where he assisted Coach Ray Benecki in the training of World Record holder Kate Ziegler. He started at the FISH February 2007 as an assistant coach and was promoted to Head Senior Coach after 2 months. He has always been particularly interested in coaching swimming, the history that goes behind it, and learning as much as he can about the sport. Matt earned a B.S. Ed. degree in Health and Physical Education at George Mason University. He swam for four years at GMU under Head Coach Peter Ward. Matt coached at the Auburn Swim Camp and at the National Distance Camp in Colorado Springs during the summer of 2007.

Matt’s swimmers have achieved USA swimming top ten list rankings including a number 1 ranking, USA swimming’s All-Time top 100 swims, YMCA top ten list, NJ Swimming records, and multiple individual Lakeland Hills team records.  He guided Ingrid Shu to number 1 on USA swimming’s 2010-2011 IMX rankings.  Matt continuously strives to help his swimmers reach their next level of swimming while preparing them to be successful at that level.  Matt currently is an ASCA Level 3 certified coach.

Dave Leshnower Age Group 2 Coach

Dave’s coaching philosophy focuses upon the individual athlete’s journey toward attaining his/her goals.  LHY swimmers will develop self-worth and confidence in their abilities with proper guidance through education and development of technical skills.  The team experiences in Dave’s groups include a focus on: work ethic, personal motivation, individual and team responsibility, honesty, and self-discipline, while conducting themselves with exceptional character, integrity, and team unity.  Dave’s intense love for the sport of swimming can be seen through his enthusiasm on the pool deck and in his educational approach toward the development of young athletes.  Dave’s coaching experience at LHY has ranged from Stroke Clinic through Age Group 2, and Junior 1 through Senior 2.  He currently coaches the swimmers in Age Groups 2 & 3.

In addition to his work at LHY, he has been the Head Coach of the Mountain Lakes High School men’s and women’s swim teams for 15 seasons. The men’s team has won 5 NJ Public B State Titles, and 7 county championships. In 2007, the men’s team set the NJ State Record for the most consecutive relay championships with nine.  Dave was named 2007 Star-Ledger State and NFHS Regional Coach of the Year.  The women’s team has been to the NJ State Playoffs 13 of 15 seasons winning 8 sectional titles (NJ State Final 4 eight times and runner’s up 4 times) to go along with 6 county titles as well.   Dave’s high school teams have also boasted 13 high school All-Americans during his tenure.

Also of note, Dave has coached the Cruiser Club in Sparta for the past two summers and has developed it into a very successful summer age group swim program that embodies his philosophies and family approach to youth sports. Prior to that, he coached the Mountain Lakes Summer Team for 10 very successful years.

“The world of sports reveals many heroes.  So does every day life.  It takes courage to grow up and reach your full potential.”

Sean McCrudden Senior 3 & 4 Coach

Sean swam for Lakeland Hills YMCA for 13 years and became a two time national qualifier. He went on to swim for Fordham University where he was captain his senior year. Sean graduated from Fordham with a marketing degree.  He is now a Special Education teacher at Roosevelt Middle School in West Orange. He coaches the Shongum Lake Swim Team in the summer. During the 2004-2005 HS season, Sean assisted Dave Leshnower with the Mountain Lakes HS team which the boys won the Public B State Title. Previously, he has also coached at Lakeland for three summers and taught stroke clinic while in college. Sean is eager to learn and very enthusiastic about coaching. He is a great asset to the coaching staff.

James Milone Senior Coach

James began swimming competitively for Fayson Lakes at 8 years old, and after stops at Pirates and MCY, swam for LHY through high school.  He then went on to swim at TCNJ where he graduated with a degree in political science.  In addition to coaching, James works as a paralegal at a personal injury law firm, as well as a lifeguard and swim instructor at LHY.  James is very happy to be back with LHY.

Ed Soder Senior Coach

Ed has 25 years of experience as a swim coach and has coached several YMCA teams, a USA Swim Club, and the College of Saint Elizabeth Swim Team.  He started his career at the age 18 as the coach of the West Morris YMCA Co-Ed swim team. He worked his way up to Head Assistant Coach at the West Morris YMCA. In 2000, Ed became the Head Swim Coach and Aquatic Director for the Morris Center YMCA. During his 6-year tenure at MCY there was steady growth, improvement, and the team’s first National qualifier in 14 years. From there he went on to coach the College of Saint Elizabeth’s swim team where he had several NEAC Champions throughout his 4 years of coaching the team.

The foundation of Ed’s swimming philosophy was developed at Stanford University National Swim Clinic, where he was a coach/counselor for 4 summers under former Olympic Coaches Richard Quick and Skip Kenney. Strong fundamentals and proper technique is key to success.

Currently, Ed is the Aquatic Director at the Lakeland Hills YMCA, where he incorporates his 30 years of experience in Aquatics to run the Aquatic Program.

Meghan Thompson Super Squad Coach

Meghan Thompson began swimming for LHY when she was 10. She qualified for YMCA Nationals at age 13 and set numerous team records in the freestyle events. She still holds the 1000 free, but is hoping someone breaks it soon. In high school, Meghan co-head coached the Smoke Rise Stingrays in Kinnelon, NJ for 3 years. 

Meghan swam for Lehigh University and was captain her senior year. In her four years at Lehigh, she was a 3-time Patriot League Champion in the 1650 free, 200 free, and 200 free relay. She currently holds 4 individual team records and 3 relay records. Now that she has graduated, Meghan works for Covanta, a sustainable energy company in Morristown, NJ.

Meghan is really excited to work with Super-squad and she hopes she can give the younger swimmers the same love and excitement towards swimming that her LHY coaches had given her. 

 

Mike Turkot Age Group 3 Coach

Mike began his swimming career at the Glacier Hills summer league program. This experience led him to year-round competition with the Crimson Aquatic Club under Gary Johnson. As a high school swimmer, Mike began his coaching career at Glacier Hills during the summer. After a successful college swimming career at Rowan University, Mike started coaching on a USA Swimming club level with the Elite Swim Club in 2003. He has been a member of the LHY staff since 2011 where he has worked primarily with the Age Group program, as well as assisting the National team coaches in the Senior program.

During his career, Mike has helped create various technique systems, an organized system for underwater filming and analysis, as well as a focused method of technique instruction in group and individual settings. Under Mike's technique and mechanics instruction, many of his swimmers went on to earn USA Swimming Sectional and National cut times, Scholastic All-American awards, as well as multiple World Junior National team members. 

Coaching requires respect, knowledge, and a passion for learning. Mike believes that the best coaches are those who place the emphasis on teaching and not routine lap swimming. Being able to instill an understanding of the "hows and whys" of swimming is a skill he works towards mastering every time he steps on a pool deck. 

Greg Yarnall Head Age Group Coach & Age Group 1

Greg began coaching at West Milford’s summer team in 1989 and coached them to seven division championships in nine years.  He swam at Lakeland Hills and then at Connecticut College for four years where he served as captain his senior year.  After graduating with a History degree, he began teaching at the Academy of Saint Elizabeth where he is also the head varsity swim coach.  Greg has coached the HS team to victory by claiming the Morris County Championship in 2004 and 2005. The St. Elizabeth's Swim Team won 7 straight Northern Hills Conference titles before the realignment of HS athletics in 2009.  In 2005, the HS team also won the Non-Public State Title.  In 2003 & 2005, Greg was named All-Area Swim Coach of the Year. Greg has spent many summers working at the Stanford National Swim Camp where he would refine his approach to stroke technique under the guidance of Olympic swim coach Richard Quick.  

 
In 2010 Greg was honored as the NJ Swimming Age Group Coach of the Year. That same year he was able to meet with some the top Age Group coaches in the country when he attended the National Age Group Coaches Summit at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. Greg is currently an ASCA Level 3 certified coach.
 
Sarah Vojta Age Group 5 Coach

Sarah is a junior at Bentley University pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Marketing and a Liberal Studies Major with a concentration in Health and Industry. During her first year and a half at Bentley, she competed on the Women’s Swim and Dive team as a diver, placing 5th in both 1 meter and 3 meter at the North East 10’s Conference her freshmen year. Her diving career came to an unfortunate end after sustaining 2 concussions throughout her collegiate career. She also swam for Glacier Hills for 5 years and Parsippany Hills High School for 4 years, serving as captain her senior year. Sarah has been the Assistant Coach at Glacier Hills the last two summers, working with all levels of swimmers and was the Swim Lessons Coordinator her first year of coaching. She is excited to assist AG5 and watch their skills develop throughout the season. She hopes to share her passion for the sport with her swimmers, making practice a fun and instructional environment that fosters improvement.

Board of Directors
Thomas Pownall President
Melissa Corbo 1st VP
Courtney Hann National Team President
Jeffrey Sartorio Treasurer
John Riccio Secretary
John Bernauer Y Board Liaison
Keira Cruz Head Coach
Michael Tucker Parent Rep
Nicole McNamara Parent Rep
Brian Boardman Parent Rep