Coaches and Directors

Coaches and Directors
Coaching Staff
Adam Blakis Director Age Group Water Polo

Adam has been coaching swimmers and water polo players in California for over twenty-five years. He has taught athletes at UC Riverside, St. Monica's, Crespi, Chabot College, Santa Monica College and Palisades-Malibu YMCA. He has coached Senior, Junior, and YMCA Natinal swimming qualifiers. Coach Adam was named the 2012, 13, 14, 15, 16 LA CIF Water Polo Coach of the Year while leading Pali High to the LA City Title. Adam swam and played water polo at Santa Monica High and UC Riverside, where he graduated with a BA in History.

Grace Winter Assistant Coach

Coach Grace grew up in Pacific Palisades.  She started swimming with Westside Aquatics in 7th grade and swam on Westside for 6 years. She competed for the Palisades High School Varsity Swim Team all four years of high school, was captain her senior year, and won four consecutive CIF Championships with the team. Grace taught swim lessons for Westside Aquatics for 1.5 years and began her coaching career with Westside Aquatics during her senior year of high school as the PreTeam coach.  She has also worked at  St. Matthew’s Day Camp   as a co-counselor for two summers, a swimming assistant for one summer, and the Swim Director for one summer.  Grace is currently a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin, and is studying education, and is planning on becoming an Elementary school teacher following graduation.  She enjoys spending time with friends, family, and her dog. 

Jaclyn Mundy Artistic Swimming

Coach Jackie grew up in Southern California, and started synchronized swimming at 8 years old with the Riverside Aquettes. She was a 2-time Collegiate National Champion representing Ohio State University. She performs for synchronized swimming shows, including a special underwater project at Yas Underworld in Abu Dhabi. Jackie also coordinates weddings, showers and corporate events for Say I Do to Details. We appreciate her experience, enthusiasm and positivity when she is working with our swimmers.

JJ Amis Gold & Silver Coach

Coach JJ is from Culver City and was active in several sports since the age of 7. He competed in judo, basketball and swimming, but realized his passion for swimming in high school. He was a Sectional, YMCA National and Junior Olympic Qualifier while representing the Westside YMCA and Pacific Palisades High School. His achievements include MVP and LA City Champion in 100 and 50 free. As a student at UC Santa Cruz, he was a Division III athlete placing 3rd in the 100 breast at the SCAC Championship and earned a top 3 spot in the UCSC Top 10 All time list in the 100 breast.

He graduated with a BA in Biology, and coached for Slug Aquatics during his time in Santa Cruz. He has additional experience coaching judo and basketball, assisting English classes in Japan and working as a summer camp counselor.  Coach JJ believes there is greatness within each of his swimmers, and emphasizes having a positive mindset to become well-accomplished individuals both in and out of the pool. His main goal as a coach is to help guide the athletes to develop a strong work ethic and confidence in their power.

Kelsey MacCuish Assistant Coach

Kelsey swam with Westside Aquatics and Palisades Charter High School for four years. She immediately fell in love with the sport when she started at age 14, and has been committed to keeping it in her life ever since. She was a 2x CIF City Section Finalist in the 100 Breaststroke and Junior Olympic Qualifier. She rowed crew with Cal her freshman year of college, but reverted to swimming for her remaining 3 years with the Cal Aquatics Masters Team. 

Kelsey previously taught swim lessons with Westside Aquatics, has experience as an EMT, and has worked as a teaching assistant in chemistry, public health sustainability, & biostatistics. She is currently earning a graduate degree in Epidemiology & Biostatistics from UC Berkeley (remotely!) and is always happy to talk about swimming and public health!

 
Lola Balestra Assistant Coach

Coach Lola grew up in Pacific Palisades and started swimming at age 4. She joined Westside Aquatics at age 10, and swam with both Westside and Pali High through graduation. One of her highlights is placing 5th at Citics for the 500 free. She started teaching swim lessons in her junior year and was the assistant coach for PreTeam in her senior year. She is currently a freshman at the University of Washington, studying Education to become an elementary school teacher. Lola enjoys cycling, arts & crafts, and spending time with friends and family. 

Matt Flanders Director of Water Polo

Coach Matt attended Santa Monica High and graduated from UCSB and UCLA. He played water polo at UCSB from 1989-1994, earning all MPSF honors, the McCormick Leadership Award ('93 & '94), and the MPSF Student Athlete of the Year award.

Coach Matt Flanders has been the head coach of Santa Monica High School's water polo and swim programs since 1996. During that time, Santa Monica teams have won 20+ league championships and reached the conference playoffs 20+ times combined, including one conference finals appearance. During this time, Santa Monica High has also had more than 75 athletes named to all-league, all-area, or all-conference teams. 

Coach Matt is currently in charge of goalie development for Westside, and he also assists with the under-12 teams.

Peter Fishler Head Coach & Seniors

With no prior competitive experience, Peter began swimming for Palisades Charter High School in 2003. By his senior year, he had helped Pali achieve three City Championships, scoring all 4 years at the LA City Championship in the top 10. He was recognized as All-Los Angeles City Team (1st and 2nd place per event) on 6 separate occasions.  While swimming for three years at Franklin & Marshall College, he was a 12-time Centennial Conference Champion, winning individual titles in the 100 & 200 Freestyles in 2008 and 2009.  He also received two NCAA Championship “B” cuts and 15 time All-Centennial Conference awards.

 

As a Palisades High School senior, Peter coached the Pali JV Women’s squad, where he helped lead the team to the Marine League championship with an undefeated season in 2006. While attending Franklin & Marshall, he helped coach the Trident Swim Club’s senior squad, leading two men to the 2009 PIAA state finals.

 

Peter has been the full-time Assistant Coach for Palisades Charter High School Swim Team since 2011. Since then, the Women's team have claimed the last eight City Championships, won 38 events and turned in 91 CIF top 3 performances and have two CIF City Section Records to speak of. The Men's team have taken the last seven City Championships, ending their seven season title drought. They have won 55 events, been awarded 97 medals and broken 15 CIF City Section records.

 

Peter began coaching for Westside Aquatics in 2011. His swimmers have competed at the highest levels of Southern California Swimming and beyond, turning in record setting performances at the SCS Club Championship "Super JO" meet, winning SCS Junior Olympic titles as well as qualifying for Sectionals, Futures, Junior Nationals and the US Open.

 

Peter was named Head Swim Coach of Westside Aquatics in May 2018. His good-natured, assertive energy compels swimmers from Age Group to Senior to perform to their highest potential. He sets clear expectations and holds swimmers accountable, leading to consistent improvement and exciting achievements. He is beloved by many swimmers in the community, and a proud leader of the Westside family.

Sasha Sabada Artistic Swimming

Originally from Ukraine, Coach Sasha has over eighteen years of experience. As a member of the national team, she competed in the 2016 Olympic Games. She is also a three-time Bronze medalist of FINA World Championship 2013, winner of the FINA World Cup 2014, European Champion and multiple-time Silver and Bronze medalist in artistic swimming. Coach Sasha has a Master's Degree in Physical Education, ACE certified personal trainer, and CCP1 certified artistic swimming coach. After retirement from the National Team, she began working as a swimming and artistic swimming coach. In March 2020, she moved from Ukraine to Los Angeles where she continues to develop her knowledge as a coach.

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Sydney Brouwer Assistant Coach

Coach Sydney grew up in Venice. She started lessons at a young age and joined Westside when she was 6 years old. She was on the Pali High swim team and swam in three CIF Championship meets where the girls team won every year. She played in four CIF Water Polo Championships and was proudly on the 1st winning girls team for Pali High. Sydney did Junior Guards, and has traveled to Australia & South Africa with the US Youth National Lifesaving team for world competitions. She currently attends Long Beach City College, studying nursing and on the water polo & swim teams. Sydney works as a beach lifeguard and is an assistant coach for our developmental groups.

Valerie Williams General Manager & Head Coach Synchro

Coach Valerie has over eighteen years of coaching experience. She previously coached 12&Under teams at Los Angeles Synchro and the Meraquas of Irvine.  Her athletes have placed routines in Finals at US Nationals, and she qualified a swimmer to the 2011 U.S. National Team. She was the Assistant Coach for the 2012 12&Under U.S. National Team, and will be coaching the U.S. National team in 2016.  She is a U.S. National Team consultant, CCP3 Certified coach, Grade Level Assessor,  and a Regional judge. She is also the head coach of a local Masters team, and performs & choreographs for private shows and film/tv productions. Valerie joined Westside in 2014 to start the artistic swimming program, and is the general manager for the club and oversees all programs. 

Board of Directors