Coaches and Directors

Meet the Quest Coaching Staff:

Coaching Staff
Chad Onken CEO & Co-Owner

Chad Onken is the CEO and Co-Owner of the Quest Swimming program in his hometown of Midlothian, Virginia. He started with Quest on January 1st, 2019.

Primarily known for the discovery and development of world record holder, NCAA Champion, and 2008/2012 US Olympic Gold Medalist Cullen Jones, Chad has over 20 years of elite championship coaching experience throughout age group, high school, YMCA, and NCAA championship swimming. In addition to being a Level 5 certified coach by the American Swimming Coaches Association, Chad is also a six-time recipient of the ASCA "Award for Coaching Excellence."

In addition to his duties with Quest, Onken also serves as the Director of International Clinics for the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA). He travels the globe, "coaching the coaches". He has taught clinics or been a guest speaker throughout the United States, as well as in Australia, Canada, Bahrain, and the UAE.

Additionally, Onken has been an active member of various committees and governance organizations within the YMCA of the USA, NC Swimming, VA swimming and USA Swimming. Besides being a current member of the USA Swimming Coach Advisory Council, he also serves as a member of the VSI Senior Committee and Governance Committee.

Before Quest, Chad served as the Head Coach/Senior Director of Competitive Swimming at the YMCA of the Triangle Area (YOTA) Swim Team in Raleigh, NC from 2006-2018. During his time with the YOTA Swim Team, Chad oversaw the "Golden Age" of the program; breaking several North Carolina state records, coaching a USA Swimming Junior National champion, recording numerous USA Swimming Junior and Senior National time standards, breaking 100+ YOTA team records, winning dozens of YMCA National individual and relay titles, setting a number of YMCA National records, and breaking 3 National Age Group records. Chad led a group of six YOTA athletes to Olympic Trials in 2012 and seven YOTA athletes to Omaha in 2016. YOTA also had success on the international level as well, having multiple athletes qualify to represent the United States in a variety of international competitions. The YMCA of the Triangle Area Swim Team had athletes qualify for the 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012, and 2014-2015 USA National Junior Teams.

Additionally, the YOTA Swim Team was crowned the 2010, 2011, and 2012 Men's YMCA National Champions and 2014 Women’s YMCA National Champions under Coach Onken's leadership. Chad's success has been recognized by USA Swimming, as he was selected to be on the coaching staff for a variety of national teams and select camps. Chad has also been nominated for several Coach of the Year awards, both within NC and throughout the country - winning the 2012 NC Swimming "Coach of the Year" award.

Chad graduated from Florida State University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice; while helping the swimming team achieve top 10 finishes at the NCAA Championships and qualifying for Olympic Trials. Given a choice to attend law school or coach swimming, Chad decided to give back to a sport that gave him so much.

Chad moved to Raleigh in 2000 as the Head Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator at NC State University. In addition to his regular on-deck duties for the Wolfpack, Onken played an instrumental role in the strength and conditioning, team building, mental training, nutritional education and academic development of the swimmers at N.C. State. While at N.C. State, Chad was the primary coach responsible for developing one USA Swimming National “B” Team Member, six US Olympic Trial qualifiers, six NCAA All-Americans, six ACC Champions, 10 school record holders, and five top 100 FINA World Ranked athletes. Furthermore, Onken served as the Head Coach for the N.C. State Aquatics Team during the summertime, where two of his athletes represented the United States in international competition. Chad was also very involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Athletes In Action program.

After five years at N.C. State, Coach Onken became the Assistant Swimming Coach/Recruiting Coordinator at national powerhouse Auburn University. During his stint with the Tigers, Onken helped the team capture both the men’s and women’s 2006 NCAA team championship titles. In addition to various administrative and recruiting duties, Chad helped coach seven NCAA Champions, 34 NCAA All-Americans, 13 SEC Champions and 13 Auburn school record-holders.

Having coached alongside some of the best coaches in the business, Chad considers both David Marsh and Dudley Duncan to be his two primary mentors. 

Chad is very happily married to the former Lauren Romano, also of Midlothian, Virginia. They are the proud parents of two beautiful daughters, Marilyn and Charlotte and also have an adorable schnoodle puppy named Bowden.

John Smithson Competitive Swimming Director & Co-Owner

Coach John came to Quest Swimming in 2004 when then Owner/Head Coach Dudley Duncan took over the program. Dudley Duncan is best known for his development of Olympians Whitney Hedgepeth (1988&1996) and Rada Owen (2000). 

During his time, his guidence has helped Quest Swimming grow from 65 athletes in 2003-2004 to between 270-290 athletes annually. Quest Swimming was recognized as a USA Swimming Silver Medal Club (2018) making it one of the Top 100 Club programs in the country. In 2021 Quest was recognized as a TOP 100 Age Group Program by the American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA). 

Coach John has been part of the development of athletes from Quest to the 2008 Olympic Trials(1), 2012 Olympic Trials(2), 2016 Olympic Trials(6) and 2020 Olympic Trials(3). Quest Swimming also became the home of USA Swimming National Team Member and 5-Time NCAA All American Clark Beach, 8-Time NCAA All American and American Record Holder (50 Fly) Maddy Banic, and 2-Time NCAA All American and American Record Holder (800 Free Relay) Jeff Newkirk. 

Athletes from Quest have gone onto become Olympic Trials Qualifiers, Junior National Champions, Junior National Qualifiers, and State Record Holders and Qualifiers.

Coach John was voted as the Virginia Swimming Senior Coach of the Year in 2015. 

John is responsible for the philosophy of development for all Quest Swimmers from Novice-Age Group-Senior and beyond. 

Before his time at Quest, Coach John was the Head Coach of his home club Team Richmond Aquatic Club (2002-2004). He got his coaching career started at Atomic City Aquatic Club (2001-2002) as an Assistant Coach.

Coach John graduated from Clarion University of Pennsylvania in 2001 and was an 8-Time NCAA Div. II All American. He was also a memeber of the Conference Championship Team in 1997. 

John lives in Midlothian, VA with his wife Tiffany, two kids Parker and Chase, and Dog (Quest). 

 

 

 

 

 

Amy Howard Assistant Coach

Coaching:

  • ASCA Level 3 certified
  • Assistant Zones coach for VA Swimming, 11/12 girls, 2015 (1st place team)
  • Also served as the head coach for River's Bend Swim Team in the Southside Swim League 
  • Under her leadership, RBST swam to league championship in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018
  • Previously coached at the Chester YMCA as both an assistant and the head coach

Swimming:

  • Swam for William and Mary as a backstroke specialist, 1982-86
  • Co-captain of the team her varsity year, 1985-86
  • Actively competes for Quest as a Masters swimmer

Education/Personal:

  • Graduated from William and Mary in 1986 with a BA in Psychology
  • Designated a Distinguished Military Graduate from ROTC
  • Commissioned in the US Army as a Military Police officer with a specialty in Public Affairs
  • Graduated from Troy State University in 1995 with a MS in Criminal Justice
  • Served from 1986-2001 rising to the rank of Major and earning the Parachutist badge 
  • Married to John with a son playing soccer at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY
Christine Callis Assistant Coach

 

Coaching:

  • Head Coach, Smoketree Swim Team, Richmond Metro Aquatic League, 2017 - present
  • Smoketree undefeated in D division regular season and won League Champs, 2017
  • Head Coach, Manchester High School Swimming, 2016 - 17 
  •  Head Coach, Midlothian Athletic Club summer team and Head Coach, year-round swim clinics
  •  Group and private swim lesson instructor for over 20 years

Swimming:

  • Swam for University of New Hampshire on scholarship, 1996 - 2000
  • Captain of the team her varsity year, 1999 - 2000
  • Finalist ECAC Champs
  • Grew up swimming for Poseidon Swimming (formerly VACS) under Quest Head Coach, Dudley Duncan
  • Junior National and Eastern Zone qualifier

Education/Personal:

  • Graduated from University of New Hampshire with a double major in Political Science and Sociology
  • Married to Jay with two children, one of whom competes for Quest
Carrie Jones Assistant Coach

I am thrilled to be a part of the Quest family! Since the age of 6, swimming has been a major part of my life and it excites me to pass it along to others. I began swimming competitively on my local age group team in Pennsylvania and continued through high school. At Kutztown University I was a four year member of the swim team and captained the team my senior year. Since then I’ve been an active member of a masters team in various places I’ve lived, including here at Quest. During the summer I’m also the coach of the Woodlake Hurricanes. I’m also a teacher and when I’m not at school and or poolside I can be found hanging out with our dog and traveling. Go Quest! 

 

Coaching:

Coach of Woodlake Hurricanes 2019-present

Taught private and group lessons for various pools 2005-present

Coached various age group teams from 2004-2009

Swimming:

Competed for the Mercersburg Area Swim Club growing up

High school swimmer and captain junior and senior years

Swam at Kutztown University from 2002-2006 and captained the team 2005-2006

Masters swimmer for teams in Jacksonville (2006-2010) and Warrenton (2010-2012)

Actively swims for Quest as a Masters swimmer

Education/Personal:

Degree in elementary and early childhood education from Kutztown University

Teacher at Swift Creek Elementary

Christopher Bushelman Assistant Coach

Coach Chris is entering his 17th year of coaching and is American Swimming Coaches Association Level 5 Certified in both achievement and education.  Coach Chris is best known as the developmental coach of 2020 Olympic Gold Medalist and World Record holder Zach Apple. Chris coached Zach throughout his high school career where Zach became a YMCA National Champion, Junior National Qualifier and US National Qualifier.  Additionally, Chris has coached a member of the US National Junior Team (2015) and a US Junior National Champion.  Chris has also developed and worked with many other Olympic Trials, National, and Junior National qualifiers. 

Prior to coming to Quest, Chris was the Associate Head Coach at SwimRVA where he helped to expand the team from 288 members in 2019 to over 500 in 2021.  

Before moving to Richmond, Chris was the Assistant Director of Competitive Swimming for the YMCA of the Triangle Area (YOTA).  Chris oversaw the operations and Development of the “West” side of the program (Durham/Chapel Hill).  In his time with YOTA, Chris grew the Senior Program in Chapel Hill from 11 athletes to over 70. The YOTA athletes Chris worked with achieved not only at the YMCA National Level, but also had several members achieve US Junior National Time Standards.  Also, while at YOTA Chris assisted then Head Coach of YOTA Chad Onken with the preparation of YOTA swimmers for 2016 US Olympic Trials and 2017 US International Team Trials.  

From 2012 to 2015, Chris was the Head Coach of the Great Miami Valley YMCA Wahoos.  GMVY was a four site program when Coach Chris took over.  Coach Chris grew that program from 60 athletes to over 120 in just 3 years. In 2015, under Coach Chris’ guidance, GMVY was a Silver Medal Club according to USA Swimming’s Club Excellence Program. Chris coached athletes at GMVY who achieved US Olympic Trial, US National/Open, and Junior National times.  It was at GMVY where Chris coached both Olympian Zach Apple and 2015 Junior National Champion and National Junior Team Member,  Mark Andrew.  Zach and Mark, along with their teammates went on to be successful in college, swimming at schools like Auburn, Indiana U, St. Louis University, and Princeton to name a few.

Chris is originally from Southwest Ohio where he was the Head Age Group Coach at KEY Swimming in Kettering, Ohio from 2010-2012 and started as an Assistant Coach at the Coffman Family YMCA in Springboro, Ohio before that.

Chris lives in Midlothian with his wife Amanda, three children (Bella, Lilly, and Matt), and their dog (Hops).

 
William Scoggins Assistant Coach
Daniel Ellis Assistant Coach