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Coaches

We are here to support your needs. If your questions are related to workouts, meets, events, goal setting, and other swimming related needs, please contact one of the coaches. For all questions related to administrative, such as dues, safety, or policy issues, please contact one of the board members.

Welcome to our coaches’ page!    Our mission as coaches is to train your swimmers to achieve their fastest potential through a proven program that will keep them improving and competing in swimming through their college years. T hey don’t have to join us as fast swimmers - we’ll train them that way.

Coast Aquatics coaches’ bios and their contact information is listed below.  We encourage you to contact the coaches in your practice location for site-spacific questions.  All coaches are available to answer any general team questions.  Thank you and happy swimming.

Coaching Staff

Brad Kale

Senior Training Group Coach

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Head Coach Brad Kale hails from Nashville, Tennessee where he had been the Senior Assistant Coach at the Nashville Aquatic Club for the past 3 years.  

Brad brings over twenty years coaching experience including senior, age group, and masters coaching experience. Over the twenty years he has coached swimmers to Age Group top 16 performances, Southeastern records, YMCA National qualifying times, Junior National qualifying times, and National qualifying times. He has been the Head Coach of the Jefferson City Barracudas, Age Group coach at the Pine Crest Camp in Ft. Lauderdale, and Head Age Group Coach of the Williamson County Aquatic Team. In 2000 Brad was named Southeastern Swimming Age Group Coach of the Year.

Coach Kale grew up swimming in the Middle TN area with Jack Hazen at the Middle TN Swim Club and John Morse with the Nashville Aquatic Club. Following high school Coach Kale continued his swimming career at the University of Kentucky. Through his four years of eligibility he qualified for finals at the Southeastern Conference Championships several times and was a Senior National qualifier in multiple events.

Brad and his wife Deana, have two wonderful children; Sydney and Carson.

Len Strom

Senior Training Group Coach

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Coach Strom is a Level 3 ASCA certified swimming coach and has completed and passed the tests for Level 4 and Level 5 certification. He started coaching when he was 18 years old. He has been on the coaching staff of the Morton Grove Swim Team, the Fort Walton Beach Swim Team, the PLAY Swim Team and Emerald Coast Swimming.  He is presently the Assistant Seniors Coach of Coast Aquatics. He along with a couple of swim parents began the High School swim program at Niceville High School in 1981 and consequently was its first Head Coach for 3 years. In 1984, Coach Len parted with swimming to pursue General Contracting and returned to coach swimming in 2003.

Since then, Coach Strom has become the Senior and Pre-Senior Coach of Coast Aquatics and is presently assisting Coach Jamie Garea with the Choctaw High School Swim Team. Coach Strom’s Training program is supplemented with Yoga, Core Synergistics, Plyometrics and Kenpo training (for core rotation and power). Endurance and power are the main focus of his program.

Coach Strom has coached swimmers at all club levels.

  • His swimmers have qualified or have been top finishers for SES Championships, Age Group Sectionals, Senior Sectionals, Short and Long Course YMCA Nationals, District, Conference, State Championships, Open- Water Swimming National Championships, and Junior Nationals.

  • 2007 Long Course Season: One of Coach Strom’s senior swimmers broke a National AAU Record in the 100 m Breaststroke.

  • He has had 23 of his swimmers inducted into Southeastern Swimming’s Hall of Fame since 2004.

  • In 2008, ECS placed 1st in the small team division (Short Course Championships)

  • In 2008 Short Course Season, he had 6 swimmers log 30 SES Top Ten times.

  • In 2008 Short Course Season: Two swimmers with National Top 10 times in the 50 fly and 100 fly.

  • In 2008 Long Course Season, he had 11 swimmers log 56 SES Top Ten times.

  • In 2008, Long Course Season, 1st place Team: 10 and under Girls (Long Course)

  • In 2008, Long Course Season, Second place mid-size team.

  • One swimmer with "6" National Top 16 swims (Short and Long Course).

  • Coach Strom has had swimmers featured in Sport’s Illustrated and Swimming World Magazine.

  • 2008: Coach Strom, Received Southeastern Swimming’s "2008 Age GroupCoach of the Year" award.

  • 2008: Coach Strom, Received American Swimming Coaches Association "2008 Age Group Coach of the Year" .

  • Has coached one of his swimmers to All-American Status two years in a row (2008/2009).

  • 2010: qualified 9 athletes to compete at YMCA National Championships in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Kristine Matthews

Junior Training Group Coach

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Coach Kris has been coaching on our swim team for six years.  She is currently one of the Junior group coaches at the Hurlburt pool.  She's the mother of two swimmers, Cameron (15) and CJ (11) and also helps coach for her son's high school (Choctaw) and middle school (Pryor) teams.

Wendy Rudman

Junior Training Group Coach

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Coach Wendy is a Level 2 ASCA coach and has been a USA registered coach for five years. She coordinates the seven different levels of age group and developmental programs, as well as writing workouts for most of these groups. The focus of these programs is to train young athletes ranging in age from 4 to 13.

Her swimmers have been among those on the 2006 and 2008 SES Championship 8 and Under Girls Team. She coaches the group of top Junior Group swimmers, many of whom achieve Southeastern Championship cut times and compete against the other top swimmers in three states. Because of her hard work and dedication, Coast Aquatics has produced more proficient Junior swimmers than any other program in the area. Her three children swim on the team.

Kathleen Marie Heapy

H.S. - M.S. Training Group Coach

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Coach Heapy is an Air Force “Brat” who grew up on bases in Germany, Upstate New York, Okinawa and the Philippines.  She swam on youth teams in Okinawa and the P.I. and competed in Junior Olympics meets in Tokyo and Iwakuni, Japan.  After high school, she went to Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana where she was a member of the swim team for 3 years.  She graduated from I.U. in 1987 and moved to Ft. Walton Beach, where she became an assistant coach for the YMCA’s “PLAY” Swim Team and the Choctaw High School team for a couple of years.  Kathi returned to coaching in 2005 as a volunteer coach for Meigs Middle School.  Since 2006, Kathi and her husband of 24 years, Gary have been the head coaches for Meigs.  Kathi has also volunteered with the Choctaw High School swim team.

Coach Heapy came to our team when her daughter, Mary, began swimming in 2003.  She has served as a board member, Treasurer, Meet Director, meet Clerk of Course, Registration Chairperson and part-time coach over the past 9 years.  She certified as a coach by USA Swimming and the Florida Department of Education.  Kathi enjoys working with young swimmers to develop their technique and love of the sport of swimming. 

Kathi and Gary have three children, Nick, Mary and Erin.  Erin also swims for Coast Aquatics.

Kathy Ritacco

H.S. - M.S. Training Group Coach

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Coach Kathy has 20 years Coaching experience. She coached the SEALS Swim Team in Panama City and year round and summer league teams in Maryland before joining the Barracudas in 2005. In 2008 Coach Kathy began as the Head Coach of Niceville High School. Coach Kathy is also the Ruckel Middle School Coach ( 2 years - Girls County Champions 2006 & 2007 and Boys Champions 2008, 2009, 2010, & 2011). Coach Kathy’s swimmers set numerous team records  and she was the primary coach for the 8 & Under Southeastern Boys Champion who was also nominated to the SES Hall of Fame.

Coach Kathy is a Spanish Teacher at Niceville High School and the mother of 2 swimmers.

Susan Versteeg

H.S. - M.S. Training Group Coach

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Coach Susan began coaching in 2004 with the Barracudas Swim Team.  She is now coaching the MS/HS Coast Aquatics group and has brought over 10 years of coaching experience with her.  She began her swimming career at the age of 7 on a summer age group swim team. She went on to swim at Burlington County Community College for two years and specialized in the 1650. Teaching swimming and life guarding around the world while her husband was Active Duty Air Force, Coach Susan received her Masters in Education.

Coach Susan is a guidence counselor at Bruner Middle School and the mother of one swimmer.

Theresa Paule McCallen

Age Group/Novice Training Group Coach

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Theresa has a very familiar swimming background. She swam competitively from the age of 5-18 on a USS team in Southern California. She attended college and received her degree in Mental health and Human services. Immediately after college she married her husband Peter. They have 4 children together. Out of college Theresa was the head swimming coach at Phoenixville Area YMCA for 6 years. At that time, her husband joined the army, and they have been moving all around ever since. They are currently stationed here- Peter is in the 7th group, Army Special Forces. Theresa has 3 children on the team:  Gabe- 9, Felicity - 7, and Eamon- 5. Theresa is very excited to work and be a part of Coast Aquatics!

Kim Wood

Age Group/Novice Training Group Coach

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Coach Kim is a master at running kids through hard workouts, while still recognizing the unique needs of their age group.  She gets excited about all of her swimmer’s accomplishments and is one of their biggest fans. Her son swims on the team.

Marion Taylor

Novice Training Group Coach

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Coach Marion has been coaching for the Coast Aquatics for 3 years. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts - Amherst.  She started swimming at a young age and could not figure out why people swam up and down the lanes- one reason why she tries to make swimming fun for her swimmers!  She is married to Ron and has a daughter Mimi, a son Campbell, a Golden Retriever Garnet, a turtle Luigi and 2 Beta Fish.