Derek J. Gelber | Aquatics Director & Head Coach

Derek J. Gelber is the Aquatics Director for the Dave & Mary Alper JCC, founder of the Alper J Swim Club, Alper J Swim School, and the Alper J Master Swim Team.  Derek comes to us from Gulliver Schools where he was the Assistant Aquatics Director, the Head Masters Swim Coach, and an assistant Senior Swim Coach. In his first three years as a Gulliver assistant coach, Derek helped coach the Gulliver High School swim team to four State Championship Titles. Since Derek took over the Gulliver Masters team in February 2015, his team had the largest growth of any Masters program in the United States inside of twelve months.

As an athlete, Derek has numerous swimming accomplishments, which include: Junior National Champion 100 m Freestyle, Junior National bronze medalist 200 m Butterfly, USA silver medalist 200 m Butterfly, and USA bronze medalist 800 m Freestyle Relay (Team USA in Israel, Maccabiah Games). Derek served as the Head Age Group Coach for the Boca Raton Swim Team, as an Assistant Coach with Oxbridge Academy swimming program, and as Head Site Coach for FLA Aquatics in Delray where he was responsible for coaching groups ranging from novice swimmers to adult Masters. Derek was a two-time state champion and state record holder for Parkway Central High School in his hometown of St Louis, Missouri. Additionally, Derek has been the Swimming Coach for Team Miami in the 2017 JCC Maccabi Games hosted by the Alper JCC. Derek is AFO certified, is an ASCA Level II certified coach, and is in good standing with USA Swimming. 

Within Derek’s first two years as Aquatics Director, our swim club (AJSC) grew to 100 USA Swimming and US Masters members.  The Alper J Swim School grew to over 50 students.  The Aquatics department has regular Water Aerobics classes, member swim, summer camp, and even has weekly Stand-Up Paddleboard Yoga classes!  

We're super excited to have Derek continue to help grow the Aquatics Department for our community!


 Alina Halley | Assistant Coach

If you have been a member of the Alper JCC anytime in the past 20 years, you've probably seen Coach Alina in the halls, the pool, or running around campus while her father taught swim lessons.  Alina has been an Alper J "lifer" first attending swim lessons at the age of three.  She started her professional career at the J as a lifeguard and camp supervisor (pool).  

Alina is currently working on her Paramedic certificate in hopes of becoming a firefighter. Leadership and coaching coarse through her veins giving her the passion and drive to excel at everything she does.  We are proud to announce she has joined our Age Group coaching staff. Coach Alina is in good standing with USA Swimming and is certified in Water Safety Instructor, Lifeguarding and CPR/First Aid/AED.


Roy Sonenshein | Assistant Coach

Roy Sonenshein has been a part of the Alper J family for over 30 years and has been with the J professionally for five years. Coach Roy is AJSC's Lead Swim Fit coach and Assistant Age Group coach.  He is registered and in good standing with USA Swimming, and is Lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor (WSI) certified. 

Fun fact: Coach Roy claims to be retired, but you'll see him here every single day working hard developing young athletes.  We are very lucky to have Coach Roy spend his "retirement" with the AJSC family.

 Alayna Simpson | Junior Coach

Coach Alayna has been a part of the Alper JCC community for the last 6 years. She joined the competitive swim team in 2016, where her skills grew exponentially. Because of her hard work and dedication, Alayna was able to reach multiple senior championship cuts and represent her high school at the FSHAA State Championship in her Senior year for 200 Individual Medley and 100 Breaststroke. 

Alayna first became a lifeguard in the Summer of 2021 assisting with summer camp. While still working as a Lifeguard, Alayna grew a passion for teaching and earned a certification as a Water Safety Instructor. In order to help kids learn to swim, perfect their swimming skills and transition seamlessly to the swim team. Alayna has effortlessly transitioned from a seasoned swimmer to Junior Coach using her knowledge and experience in swimming to help athletes reach their goals.


Coach Alayna is in good standing with USA Swimming and is certified as a Lifeguard, Water Safety Instructor and CPR/First Aid/AED. 

  Leo Lantigua | Junior Coach