2021 Coaching Staff

Nikki Palmer - Head Coach 

Swimming has been a lifelong passion for Nikki.  She grew up swimming for Dana Hills and the Terrapins Swim Team in Concord.  Nikki earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Tampa, where she was also a member of the swim team.  She has been nominated swimmer of the year 5 times and won twice in her illustrious career.

The only thing Nikki has more of a passion for than swimming is working with kids, coaching them to their full potential.   She has coached for local swim teams such as Dana Hills, New Wave Aquatics, and Blackhawk.  Nikki subscribes to the philosophy that technique drives the swim and strength will follow.  She was twice voted Jr Coach of the year at Dana Hills and is currently in the Jr Coach hall of fame.

In her free time, Nikki enjoys spending time with friends and blogging.

Dan Cottam - Assistant  Head  Coach 

Dan Cottam has been coaching for two decades at the USS club, recreational, and high school level. Dan is currently the Senior Development Group coach and Assistant Senior Group coach for the Terrapins Swim Team as well as the Head Coach of Carondelet High School.  In addition, he was the co-founder/Head Coach for the Diablo Aquatics Devil Rays where he coached for 7 months (June 2015-December 2015). Dan was also the co-founder/ Head Coach for the Crow Canyon Sharks (2005-2015). Dan led the Sharks to 5 Silver Medal National Club Excellence Awards (2010-2014) and 1 Bronze Medal National Club Excellence Award (2015).

His coaching accomplishments include: coached at 2 Olympic Trials (2008, 2012) and had a semi-finalist in each one, a Top 5 Team finish at the 2011 and 2012 Short Course Junior National Championships, multiple individual Junior National Champions, and a Junior National Record-breaking 400 Medley Relay Team, a LC Sectional Team Title and Coach of the Meet (2014), a Far Western Team title (2010 LC), multiple Top 3 Team finishes at Short Course Far Westerns, 5 Junior Olympic Team titles (3 Short Course, 2 Long Course), multiple individual Pacific Record breakers and relay record breakers, multiple individual/relay Far Western and Junior Olympic Champions, and has prepared 70 kids to swim at the college level.

Pacific Swimming All-Star Coach in 2008 and Head Coach in 2009. He has also been nominated for Pacific Swimming Senior and Age Group Coach of the year. Dan was Co-Head Coach of the Crow Canyon Sea Lions summer team and helped lead them to Contra Costa County titles from 2005-2008. Additionally, Dan was the Athletic/Aquatic Director for Crow Canyon Country Club (2004-2015). Previously, he served as the Head Coach of the men’s and women’s swim teams at Acalanes High School in Lafayette (2005-2007). Dan directed the Dons’ squads to Top 10 finishes in the CIF North Coast Section all 3 years (3rd place with Men’s Team in 2007). Dan began his coaching career with LMYA Swim Team where he was an Assistant Coach for 2 years and then Head Coach from 2002-2004.

The East Bay native started swimming at 5 years old (Forrest Park Swim Club) and began year-round swimming with the Terrapins at 9 years old and continued with them through college (14 years, 1986-2001). At the Terrapins Dan was a Junior National qualifier in the Distance Freestyle events and also specialized in the 200FL and 400IM. Dan earned a swimming scholarship to the University of California at Santa Barbara where he was a four-year member of the Gauchos swim team, won the conference title in the 1650 yard freestyle as a freshman, and also won the Most Inspirational Swimmer Award (2001).

Mackenzie Curtis - Assistant Head Coach

Mackenzie has been with DHST as a swimmer since 2009, and a coach since 2015. Kenzie started out as a volunteer coach in 2013, became a Junior Coach in 2015, and became an Assistant Head Coach in 2019. She also is a swim instructor at Little Swimmers in Concord, teaching and leading classes from Parent and Me’s to advanced swim team level classes.

I have worked with all levels of abilities, skills, and ages and I love to help young swimmers blossom. I am honored to be a part of the amazing DHST coaching staff and learn and grow from my fellow coaches. I have a true passion for the swim and coaching world and I couldn’t see myself without the Otter Family. I currently in my last semester at Diablo Valley College studying Elementary Teacher Education and Psychology and I will be transferring to a 4-year university in fall 2021. I am so looking forward to what the 2021 season will bring us, and I can’t wait to be a part of the fun and exciting season. 

Emma Brownrigg - Assistant Head Coach

Emma has been in the water since she could remember. She has grown up swimming, starting at age 5. She swam for the Dolphins summer league and then transitioned to a year-round team at the Brentwood Seawolves. Emma was an acclaimed swimmer in high school going to State Championships, as well as being nominated for athlete of the year in her school district. Emma then went on to swim collegiately at a private school in Washington state and later transferred to Sacramento State University. 

Emma has been coaching since 2017, at various teams across the area. She was also a part-time swim instructor at Carsons Swim School from 2014-2019. Emma grew up with a love for the sport and wants to share her passion with others, through coaching. Emma is a hard-working, positive, and patient coach. She is always ready to push and encourage swimmers to become the best versions of themselves throughout the season.

John Parker - Assistant Coach

John swam with Dana Hills for 12 years.  He has been a Coach since 2018 with DHST. John is studying Public Health at the University of Nevada, Reno.  Here is more from John in his own words:

In all of my years of swimming and being a part of a team, I love being involved in the coaching staff and having the ability to share my experience and passion with all of the kids.  In my free time away from the pool, I still love to swim, go to the gym, be active outside and play video games with my friends. I'm excited for the 2021 Dana Hills Otters and I can't wait to have the best swim season yet!

Caela Hetherton - Assistant Coach

Caela Hetherton is currently a sophomore at the University of Nevada, Reno. Caela has been on Dana Hills Swim Team since she was 6 years old, and will be aging out this summer. Caela has been a Coach since 2018. Here is a bit from Caela in her own words:

My favorite part about Dana Hills is the wonderful community and dedication that every swimmer has. as a coach, I have really enjoyed watching kids grow from little 6 and unders to little young adults! In my free time, I love to swim, be under the sun, lift weights at the gym, sing, and play instruments! I am so excited to reunite with all of you and meet some new swimmers this summer! Go Otters!