Coaches and Directors

Coaches and Directors
Coaching Staff
Neil Walker Head Coach - Sr. Racer1

Neil Walker is an alumnus of the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a 25-time All-American and two-time NCAA individual champion. Neil began his career in his hometown of Verona, Wisconsin. Swimming under Verona Aquatics Club coach Randy Trowbridge, Walker set state records that he still holds to this day. Recruited by several schools, including Florida, USC, Auburn and Arizona, he decided to make his mark under head coach Eddie Reese at Texas. 

Neil finished his collegiate career as one of the most decorated athletes in Texas history and as one of the highest ranked Longhorn swimmers in the school's history. In addition to his 25 All-American awards, he won back-to-back NCAA individual titles in the 100-yard backstroke, and six individual Big XII titles. In 1997 he set an American, US Open and NCAA record in the 100-yard backstroke, with a time of 44.92. He also set the NCAA record in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 19.08. His accomplishments (shortened by a broken hand the second day of the meet) earned him the NCAA Swimmer of the Year award in 1997.


Since graduation, Neil has gone on to swim in numerous international meets, including several World Championships, Pan Pacific Championships and the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games. Considered one of the most versatile swimmers in American swimming history, Neil has held records in every stroke (breaststroke through an I.M. record) and over multiple distances.

Neil was an assistant coach for Longhorn Aquatics (USA Swimming's No. 1-rated swim club since 2004) from 2005 until 2009, when he became the head coach for RACE. He spends the majority of his time with the Senior Racers and Senior prep, as well as overseeing all operations.

Tom Applegate Head AG Coach - Jr. Racer 1, Racer 1

Tom Applegate is a graduate of Truman State University, where he was a six-time All-American and a two-time Academic All-American.

Tom began coaching in Pontiac, Illinois in 2000, when he started coaching the Pontiac Pacers Swim Team. He coached the team for four years, developing many young swimmers. He then started coaching the ASA Aquadogs in Kirksville, Missouri. He became the head coach of the Aquadogs in 2005 and remained there through 2007.

In 2007, Tom took over the Plano YMCA Sea Dragons swim team. In the short time he was there, he had more than 40 YMCA state qualifiers and built the team from 40 swimmers to 120. He then took a job with the Rockwall YMCA as the Aquatics Director and Assistant Swim Coach. While there he saw the Riptides through a state championship and a second-place finish in 2008 and 2009 as an age group coach.

Tom was part of the original RACE staff who started the program in 2009. Since coming to RACE, he has coached several USA Top 16 Age Group Swimmers and helped the team achieve numerous Top 10 finishes at TAGS.

In 2010 Tom met his wife, Jessica, at the Aquatic Center. Having had a club swimming background herself, Jessica joined the RACE coaching staff until they welcomed their daughters Paige in 2015 and Hadley in 2018. The Applegates are so far, successfully raising two girls to love the water. 

In his time away from the pool, Tom enjoys hunting, fishing and being with his family and bird dogs.

Tom is our Head Age Group Coach, RISD Aquatic Supervisor and Coaches the Jr Racer 1 and Racer 1 groups.

David Partenheimer Coaching Mini Racer 1, Rockwall HS

Coach Dave or Coach P is from Jeffersonville, Indiana with over 26 years of coaching and teaching experience. 

He started off as a swimmer for Pacesetter Aquatics and worked his way up to Head Age Group Coach.  He has coached middle school and summer league teams.  While in Indiana he also had the privilege of coaching the Indiana Zone Team.

In 2004 Coach P moved to Texas where he started coaching High School swimming in the Houston and Austin areas.  He has also Coached for TWST and Texas Gold Club teams.

Teams achievements under Coach P include:

  • Won Girls State 5A swimming and diving Championships 2017
  • Had Multiple NISCA All American Relays and Swimmers
  • Multiple T16 USS Swim Times
  • District, Regional, & State Team Titles
  • Won District, Regional, and State Coach of the Year awards

Coach Dave has also coached USA Water Polo Club Teams, summer league in Houston, and Zone assistant coach.

In addition to being the new Mini Racer 1 Coach, he is the current Rockwall High School Swim Teams and Water Polo Teams.

Coach Dave is also a certified teacher and has taught HS Math, Physical Education (all grades) and Elementary Education from early childhood to 4th grade.

Matt Bird Mini Racer 4, Jr Racer 2, Heath HS

Matt Bird comes to R.A.C.E. from 8 years of coaching at the age group, high school, masters, and most recently at the Division I college level. Along with coaching at RACE, Coach Matt is the head coach for Rockwall-Heath HS Swimming and Waterpolo. Matt is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach (Through NSCA), and has had experience coaching USRPT and Open Water swimming.

Coach Matt graduated from Ball State University in 2019 with his Masters in Sports Administration. During his time at Ball State,  worked as the Graduate Assistant Swim Coach for the Ball State's Division I Team. During his two years at Ball State, the swimmers broke 3 school records and set 35 Program Top Ten Times. Before his time at Ball State, Coach Matt graduated from the University of Utah In 2017 with a Bachelor's of Science in Exercise Sports Science and Minoring in Nutrition. While taking classes at the University of Utah, Coach Matt was a volunteer assistant coach and Strength and Conditioning coach for the University of Utah Swim and Dive Program. He was responsible for running the strength and dryland conditioning workouts for the 77 athletes on the Varsity squad, along with assisting the coaches on deck on daily swim training. Prior to being a Volunteer coach at the University of Utah, Coach Matt was the Assistant Coach to his high school alma mater, Juan Diego Catholic High School. During his time, he helped guide the team to over 40 All-State Swims, 8 broken school records, and 3 Individual State Champions.

Currently, Matt spends his time Coaching the Mini Racers 4, the Jr Racers 2, and the Rockwall-Heath High School team.

Stewart Carroll Coaching Sr. Racer 1

Stewart is a native of London, England and came to the US on a swimming scholarship at the University of Iowa. Stewart was a two time All American while swimming middle distance freestyle at Iowa. Stewart competed in two UK Olympic Trials and retired from swimming in 1992. 20 years later Stewart started swimming and competing again in Masters swimming. Stewart trains and competes for Rockwall Aquatic Masters(RAM) and is a current multi event National masters champion and a multi event medalist at the FINA World Masters Championships. Stewart is married with two children, one of whom swims for RACE.

Kacy Cssey Coaching Racer 1, Sr Racer 2 & 3

Coach Kacy began swimming at the age of six years old. She joined the RACE team as an athlete when it opened in 2009, first swimming for Coach Tom in Racer 1 and later swimming for Coach Neil in Senior Racer for several years. 

At 15 Kacy began instructing at the Rockwall Swim School and has been employed there for the last 9 years. Over that time she has worked with swimmers ages 6 months and up to ensure water safety and proper technique.

Coach Kacy began coaching at RACE in 2014, coaching High School, Middle School, and Age Group athletes. She left the team in 2015 to pursue her Bachelors’ in Sports Management at Wayland Baptist University. While at WBU she was selected to intern with the Wayland Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Team. Immediately following graduation Kacy accepted an assistant coaching position in New York at Utica College. During her time at UC she was placed in charge of recruiting and assisted in writing and running workouts, as well as day to day operations. In the fall of 2018 Coach Kacy returned to RACE and now coaches Senior 3.

Shelly Villarreal Coaching Jr Racer 3

Coach Shelly started her swimming career inspired by her kids commitment and love for the sport.   Her dedication and excitement for swimming lead her to experience and understand that great feeling of accomplishment swimming gives.

Coach Shelly and her family has been part of the RACE family since the aquatic center doors open for the first time on September of 2009.
In 2017 Shelly joined the RACE coaching staff as a Swim Coach.   Coach Shelly is also an instructor for the 2nd Grade Water Safety Program @ RISD a nd teaches Swim lessons @ the Rockwall Swim school.  Shelly is been married for 22 years, she is a mother of three kids, Eliseo jr and Araeli, both of them Aggie students at A&M College Station. Gig ‘em!  Also former RACE club and Heath High School Swimmers.  Her youngest son;Ricardo, is 15 years old he also swims for our RACE team with Coach Eric/Racer 1

Coach Shelly is currently coaching the Jr Racer3 Group and she is looking forward to work with each swimmer and RACE family to make this a fun and exciting experience.

Kim Lester Coaching Mini Racer 3 & 4A, Racer 2

Kim started coaching swimming at 16 years of age in Napa CA where she ran a Swim America swim school.  She then moved on to be an age group with coach with the Napa Valley swim team, where she worked with Paul Bergen, Jack Ridley, and Bob Bowman.

Kim swam as an age group swimmer for the Napa Valley swim team until age 14 and then swam in junior college.  She has always been active in athletics and swim, as well as running. She has completed 21 marathons, so far, and numerous triathlons.  After meeting her husband, while a flight attendant at Southwest Airlines,  she moved to Camas Washington where she started her own swim school that focused on younger children and triathletes.

In 2012 her family moved to Phoenix AZ and her children, Ryan and Amelia, joined Scottsdale Aquatic Club.  Kim was an age group coach at Scottsdale Aquatic Club. Scottsdale Aquatic Club is a top 10 National team and perennial Gold rated swim club. Kim also coached High School and Junior High at Scottsdale Preparatory Academy.  While coaching at Scottsdale Prep,  Kim’s team won the small school championship and was runner up for division 3 schools in the state of Arizona.

Kim’s husband works for Southwest Airlines, so in 2017 they moved again to Rockwall where both Ryan and Amelia swim for RACE. Kim is passionate about swimming and fitness, she was a certified Crossfit instructor and a life long teacher.   Her emphasis is on form and technique and loves working with the newer swimmers.dtechnique and loves working with the newer swimmers.

Stacey Harbin Coaching Mini Racer 2

Coach Stacey has been coaching at RACE since 2015 and her family has been part of the RACE family since they moved here in 2012.  Coach Stacey has been involved in swimming in one way or another for most of her life. Stacey was a competitive swimmer from the age of 3 until 17 in New York and Connecticut.  She coached summer league and taught lessons in HS.  She was away from swimming for a few years while she was serving in the Air Force.  When her children were young she started teaching lessons again and coaching part time at the YMCA in Bessemer, AL.  Over the next decade the family moved several times to Louisiana, Austin, TX,  Virginia and then to Rockwall.  During that time Coach Stacey was involved with swimming as a swim mom, volunteer, and board member in VA..  After moving to Rockwall, Coach Stacey became a swimming official for USA Swimming, HS and NCAA.  She continues to officiate when she is not coaching.  She is married to Eric Harbin who is also a swim official and they have 4 children, all swimmers or swammers :)  Her oldest, Haylie, swam for Coach Neil and then at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.  She graduated in May, 2018 and is stationed in Minot, ND.  Braxton And Forrest also swam for Coach Neil and are both attending the Air Force Academy.  Peyton swims and dives for Rockwall High School and dives for DMD at SMU.  Coach Stacey loves working with the kids and helping them to be the best athlete and person they can be.

Eileen Wanless Coaching Substitute & Private Lessons

Coach Eileen originally joined the RACE family in 2013 swimming and competing with the Rockwall Aquatic Masters (RAM) swim team.

As a life-long swimmer and competitor, she was able to swim with various schools across the country as a military brat growing up. Eileen graduated from Indiana University and served almost 10 years both in the United States Air Force and the USAF Reserves as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer.

She is passionate about swimming and fitness and believes in the power of encouragement. Eileen continues to swim with RAM, is an instructor with the Rockwall ISD 2nd grade Water Safety Program, and a Sub for all RACE groups.

Coach Eileen’s favorite part about being involved in the RACE community is encouraging kids to love swimming and that they can achieve success in the sport.

Board of Directors