Coaches and Directors

Coaches and Directors
Coaching Staff
Ray Benecki Founder and Executive Director

Ray Benecki is the founder and Executive Director of the FISH. He formed the club in 1991 for his oldest son Steven, when he was 4 years old. Coach Ray works mostly with the Awesome and Incredible FISH at Spring Hill and the Amazing and Fantastic FISH at Wakefield.  However, don't be too surprised to see him in the water with the Mini FISH on a Saturday night.

Coach Ray worked with Kate Ziegler for 9 years in which she set several world records and qualified to be on the 2008 Olympic Team in Beijing and the 2012 Olympic Team in London. He is an ASCA Level V Coach and was appointed Assistant Women's Coach for the USA National Team at the World Championships in March 2007 and he was also an appointed member of the 2008 Olympic Team coaching staff in Beijing.  

In addition, he served as an assistant open water coach for the USA National Team at the Pan Pacific Championships in August 2006. He served as Assistant coach for the Eastern Zone Regional Distance Camp in 2005, ran the National Distance Camp at the USOC in 2007, and was appointed by Mark Schubert as Special Consultant to the Junior National Team in Melbourne Australia.

In 2010 Coach Ray won the Dirks/Gould Award. He was nominated for the Golden Goggles Award Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2007. Ray has presented seminars on distance swimming for USA Swimming and the American Swim Coaches Association in 2005 and 2008. He was a collegiate swimmer at Cornell (1970-71) and Delaware (1972-75). 

Monika Paris Managing Team Director



MonikaParis is t he Managing Team Director for the FISH; she ensures that the coaches can focus coaching.

Monika holds a BS degree in business, with specialization in hospitality, from the University of Houston. She brings a diverse set of experience and talents to the management of the FISH: she owned and operated a web design company in the early days of the Internet and more recently worked in recruitment and placement for legal professionals. Besides her business and professional skills, Monika is an accomplished artist and she loves to run and trek and climb mountains. Her favorite mountains are the Himalayas. She is living her dream by completing a Half Marathon in each state of the US and on each continent.  

Matt Pelletier Head Coach & Amazing FISH

Coach Matt is in charge of the Amazing FISH and Audrey Moore AG, but you will see him working with the other groups as well, from the Mini's all the way up to the Awesome FISH.

Matt has been with the FISH for over 8 years, coaching Advanced Age Group,Terrific FISH,and now Amazing FISH.  Following both the 2013-2014 and 2016-2017 seasons, Coach Matt was selected by the American Swimming Coaches Association as a Top 10 Age Group Coach of the Year.  Matt has coached athletes to over 50 USA Swimming Top Ten Rankings, including seven #1 rankings.  In 2014, the 10 & Under Boys Relay teams coached by Matt set National Age Group Records at the NASA Showcase Classic in Clearwater, FL.  In addition, Coach Matt has been selected as a PVS Zone Coach on multiple occasions.

Coach Matt swam collegiately for four years at American University before joining the FISH coaching staff in 2010.  While at American, Matt was captain and MVP of the men's program during both his Junior and Senior seasons.  Swimming under Coach Mark Liscinsky, he focused most of his training around the sprints, setting the AU school record in the 50 Freestyle and 100 Backstroke, while earning an NCAA "B" qualifying time in the latter event.  In addition, Matt has AU Top Ten Times in the 100 Freestyle, 100 Butterfly, and 200 Backstroke.

Nicole Harmon Head Age Group Coach & Assoc. Head Coach

Nicole Harmon is the Head Age Group Coach and Associate Head Coach of the FISH, and primarily coaches the Terrific FISH program. During her time with the FISH, Nicole has had the opportunity to attend various meets including Olympic Trials, Senior Nationals, Sectionals, Zones, and the Elite Showcase Classic. In 2016, she was a top 10 finalist for the Fitter and Faster Age Group Coach of the Year. That same year, she was a presenter for the ASCA World Clinic, where she gave two presentations: one on coaching young swimmers and another on racing during practice. She gave her presentation on coaching young athletes as a USA Swimming Webinar later that year.

Nicole grew up in Maine and has been swimming year round since she was 7 years old. She spent her age-group swimming days swimming for her club team Coastal Maine Aquatics (CMA). She moved down to Virginia to attend George Mason University, where she graduated in May 2012 with a degree in Health, Recreation and Tourism with a concentration in Exercise Science. In her final semester at Mason, Coach Nicole was an intern with the Strength and Conditioning staff for the intercollegiate athletics, where she learned an incredible amount of information regarding strength training. While Coach Nicole attended Mason she was a member of the varsity swim team for all four years. She specialized in sprint backstroke and butterfly, and was able to achieve her Nationals cut in the 100 backstroke, 50 freestyle, and 100 butterfly. Her favorite thing about coaching is being able to help all levels of swimmers achieve goals higher than they thought possible.

Ryan Westhafer Head Site Coach - Audrey Moore

Coach Ryan is the Head Site Coach at Audrey Moore. During his five seasons with FISH has had the opportunity to coach Age Group and is now the primary coach for Fantastic FISH. You can find Coach Ryan working with all of the groups at both Audrey Moore and Spring Hill. Ryan has also had the opportunity to attend many levels of meets including Olympic Trials, Futures, Senior Zones, and Sectionals. 

Coach Ryan swam all four years in high school where he represented Bayard Rustin High School at the PA State Meet in the 100 Breaststroke Final for 3 years. Ryan completed collegiately at Towson University under Coach Pat Mead before joining FISH in 2013. Although he focused mostly on distance training, Ryan holds Top 10 Times in both the 100 and 200 Breaststroke.

Ryan began coaching in high school where he was an assistant coach for his local summer league team, West Chester Golf & Country Club,  just outside of Philadelphia. During his fifth-year Ryan was a student assistant for Towson University where he helped the Women’s Team earn their sixth conference title in seven years.

Callan Heidkamp Asst. Head Coach & Prep Lead Coach

Callan Heidkamp grew up in St. Charles, Illinois. He started swimming competitively at age 7 with the St. Charles Swim Team and continued swimming until age 18. Coach Callan was a four-year varsity swimmer while at St. Charles East High School and was honored as an All-American during his tenure. He attributes his father, former Coach Thomas Heidkamp, as his inspiration for coaching.

Coach Callan started his coaching career in 2007. During the past 11 years, he has guided many swimmers to develop the skills, technique and training needed to produce champions, finalists or qualifiers at Age Group Regionals and States, High School State, Junior/Senior Championships, Speedo Sectionals, Junior Nationals, Senior Nationals, Olympic Trials, and Olympic Games.

Callan is celebrating four years since he joined The FISH family.

Coach Callan’s favorite food is sushi and spends his hours away from the pool cheering on his favorite soccer or (football) team, the Tottenham Hotspur. Callan has great enthusiasm and dedication to the sport of swimming that radiates to the kids whom he coaches. Swim Fast FISH!!!

Jeanne Fye Mini FISH Coach - Spring Hill

Over the past 40 years, Coach Jeanne Fye has maintained her love of swimming by participating as either an athlete, coach, official or parent of swimmers.  Coach Jeanne began swimming competatively at age 7 in the NVSL with the Walden Glen Wahoos.  She went on to swim high school with West Springfield and competed collegiately for Penn State.  During her swimming career, Coach Jeanne was named to the NAG top 16 three times, was a Junior National finalist, a Senior National qualifier and was named to the 1986 collegiate All-America Honorable Mention Team. 

Coach Jeanne began coaching in the NVSL as an assistant with Walden Glen and then moved to head coaching the Cottontail Cobias and the Village West Vikings.  After college, Jeanne coached age group swimmers for Solotar Swim Team.  Jeanne has also coached for the Ashburn Village Swim Team, the Mavericks Swim Team in Illinois and the Albany Area YMCA in Georgia.  Prior to joining the FISH coaching staff in 2017, Jeanne was the head coach for the Belmont Sharks in the ODSL for two years.


Curtis Din Coach - Advanced Age Group

Curtis began his coaching career in 2000 with a summer league team in Virginia  Beach. After graduating from Virginia Tech in 2006, he began coaching with TCAC, a USA club in Virginia working extensively with all age groups and skill levels. After moving to Potomac Valley Swimming in 2014 with FBST, he learned about the dry side of coaching taking care of administrative duties and hosting meets. His  swimmers have competed at  Junior Nationals, achieved USA Swimming national age group Top 10 recognition, and broken Virginia State Swimming records. Many have gone on to compete in NCAA programs. He encourages his swimmers to pursue knowledge and success in all aspects of their lives and continues to dedicate himself to the sport and the effect it has on kids.

Art Vera Mini Coach

Art Vera started his competitive swimming career at 8 years old swimming for teams in the Colonial League, NVSL, and USA/Potomac Valley Swimming.  Along with honing a competitive spirit, making lifelong friends, and instilling discipline, swimming gave him the opportunity to travel all over the Nation.   He competed at meets as far north as Buffalo, New York to as far west as Santa Cruz, California and the sense of adventure has stuck with him.

Art began coaching at 17 for the Belle Haven Country Club.  From there, he went on to receive the American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor certificate to teach swimming on an individual level at pools for Fairfax County RECenters and currently for the past 4 years at the McLean Racquet & Health Club.

Even with his time as a competitive swimmer long behind him, swimming will always be essential in Art's life.  Swimming is still teaching him new skills and taking him new places.  At college in California, he learned to surf, and has since surfed the coasts of several states and some countries including Mexico, Uruguay, and Japan.  This past year, he lived abroad in Japan teaching English and American culture, and was fortunate enough to teach swimming as part of the Physical Education curriculum.

Art will be working with the Mini FISH at Spring Hill RECenter.

Jo Podlasek Mini Coach

Coach Jo Podlasek joins us as a Mini FISH coach.

Celebrating a December birthday, Jo spent her first summer in the water making her a true 'water baby.'  Since then, she has spent all her summers swimming and has taught private lessons in our area for almost 10 years.  

She grew up in McLean, attended Bishop Ireton High School and has a Bachelor of Science degree from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.  She is also involved in the community as a paramedic with the McLean Volunteer Fire Department.  

Outside of swimming, she enjoys the sport of running.  She has run many races from charity event 5Ks to 50 mile ultra marathons.  Jo comes to us with a great attitude and diligent focus that she has developed through years of experience as a teacher, paramedic and ultra-runner.  

Jo has a love of swimming but even more she is eager to share her sense of mental strength with our young athletes.

Katie Vintimilla Mini Coach
Hello I am Katie Vintimilla, a junior at South Lakes High School. I have been swimming on FISH for about 10 years now and love swimming more and more with each year. My plans for college are uncertain, however I ideally would like to continue my swimming career throughout college. One of my favorite swimming memories was actually before I was on the FISH, I used to go to the pool everyday with my father when I was 6 years old and Coach Ray would be there as well and as my dad and I continued going to the pool Coach Ray would tell us how great swimming was and eventually told us about the FISH. And I've been on the team ever since! Those encounters with Coach Ray really sparked my love for swimming. I can't wait to share what I've learned over my years on FISH with our young athletes! I hope our young athletes enjoy swimming as much at I do!
Alex Vaillant Mini Coach

Coach Alex Vaillant is excited to join us as one of the Mini FISH coaches. Prior to joining us at FISH, she was a swimmer for BASS swimming in Virginia, and is a graduate of Virginia Tech. She believes that hard work, dedication, and fun are the keys to success.

Board of Directors