TOP 10 AGE GROUP COACHES OF THE YEAR FOR 2021


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TOP 10 AGE GROUP COACHES OF THE YEAR FOR 2021

Announced by Fitter and Faster and ASCA

Fort Lauderdale, FL – The American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) and Fitter and Faster are pleased to announce the TOP 10 AGE GROUP COACHES OF THE YEAR FOR 2021. 

These coaches will be honored at the 2021 ASCA World Clinic Award Banquet on September 16 at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando.  The Fitter and Faster/ASCA Coach of the Year for 2021 will be revealed at the banquet.

These coaches are selected based on USA Swimming’s national rankings data for 12 and under swimmers. Coaches received bonus points for number of #1 rankings, for number of different swimmers ranked, and for number of total rankings. 

Congratulations to the following outstanding coaches (in alphabetical order):

Allison Brol – Nitro Swimming, ST

Andrew Eckhart – Sarasota Family YMCA Sharks Swim Team, FL

Joe Finke – St. Petersburg Aquatics, FL

Don Garman – La Mirada Armada, CA

Chrissy Gentry – Lakeside Aquatic Club, NT

Colin Kennedy – Cypress Fairbanks Swim Club, GU

Andrew Marsh – Lakeside Aquatic Club, NT

Erin Miller – Scarlet Aquatics, NJ

Dale Porter – Bolles School Sharks, FL

Gabriela Sofia – Long Island Aquatic Club, MR

Data compiled by Guy Edson for the American Swimming Coaches Association.


Allison Brol:
Nitro Swimming
South Texas Swimming
Prep Lead Coach

Education: University of Indianapolis- BS Elementary Education

Professional Experience:

  • Nitro Swimming, September 2014-Present
  • Piedmont Swim Team, Head Coach, 2008-2014
  • Huntsville Swim Association, Age Group Coach 2011-2014
  • Huntsville High School, Head Coach, 2012-2014
  • Southeastern and South Texas Zones Coach

Accomplishments:

  • 2014 ASCA Top 10 Age Group Coach of the Year
  • 2013, 2014 RCSL City Meet Champions (Piedmont)
  • 2012, 2013 6A Alabama High School State Champions
  • 2012 Short/Long Course 11-12 Girls Southeastern High Point
  • Coached 9-10 & 11-12 Nationally Ranked Relays and Individuals
  • Placed swimmers on the Southern Zone Select Camp

Education/Certifications

  • American Red Cross certified in CPR, First Aid, and Coaches Safety Training

Community Service/ Personal:

  • Special Olympics Texas- Volunteer 2014
  • Austin City Limits Festival- Volunteer 2014/2015
  • Avid pie eater.

Andrew Eckhart:
Sarasota Sharks
Florida Swimming
Head Age Group Coach

Coach Andrew started coaching with the Sharks in 2012 until 2016 when he became the Head Age Group Coach for Gulliver Swim Club in Miami, Florida. While with Gulliver Swim Club he helped lead the Age Group Program to two second place finishes at the Florida Gold Coast Junior Olympic swim meet. He also he oversaw the lessons program, taught physical education, was the Aquatics Facility Operator, and was in charge of developing and communicating the progression of the program. In 2018 he rejoined the Sharks as a Lead Coach and Aquatics Facility Operator.

Before joining the Sharks in 2012 he coached at Florida State University as a volunteer assistant coach with both the men’s and women’s programs during the 2011-12 season. He was also the Associate Head Coach of the club program through the university, Club Seminole, during his time in Tallahassee.

Before moving to Florida he coached in Massillon, Ohio, where he was an assistant coach for the boys high school team at Jackson High School for the 2010-2011 season. He also coached at the local YMCA, Paul and Carol David YMCA, were he coached all levels of groups from 8 and unders up to the Senior Age Groups.

While in college he was a 4 year letter winner in swimming at Eastern Michigan University and was selected as captain for his senior year. He is a 2010 graduated from Eastern Michigan with a double major in Secondary Education (grades 6-12) and History along with a minor in Political Science.

Since rejoining the Sharks in 2018 he has also taken part in several USA Swimming camps and summits. He was invited to the National Age Group Summit in 2018 and the National Open Water Select Camp in 2019. He was also chosen to be a part of the 2020 Southern Zone Select Camp.

Coach Andrew has also found success as a high school coach. Since 2018 he has been the head coach for Sarasota High School. In 2019 he was named HT Preps Coach of the Year.

Coach Andrew and his family are happy and excited to be back in Sarasota. Coach Andrew has two young sons, Colin and Anderson. His wife works as a teacher and is a former Shark national team member.


Joe Finke:
St. Petersburg Aquatics
Florida Swimming
Head Age Group Coach

Coach Joe Finke has been coaching with St. Petersburg Aquatics since 2014.  He began as a swim parent then a USA Swimming  Official for 14 years.  Coach Finke handles the Senior II group at SPA which includes swimmers from ages 8 to 16.  He is also a member of the SPA Board of Directors responsible for USA Swimming programs. 

Joe is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Electrical Engineering and Stetson University College of Law.  He is married to Jeanne and has three children Autumn, Summer, and Bobby.


Don Garman:
La Mirada Armada
Southern California Swimming
Head Age Group Coach

Don is in his 53rd year of coaching and has been a leader in southern California swimming throughout that time. Don has been with the Armada since its inception in 2006 when the team moved from Industry Hills. Over the years Don has had the opportunity to work with some of the finest young swimmers in the country. To date, several of Don’s swimmers have set Southern California Swimming records and even national records and have continually excelled at the local level. Over the period of his career, Don has coached more top 16 nationally ranked swimmers than any other active coach in Southern California. Don was formerly the Head Age Group Coach of Industry Hills Aquatics and the El Monte Aquatics Club. Prior to that Don was the Head Coach of the Hacienda Heights Aquatics Club. Olympic Gold medalist, Jill Sterkel got her start in the sport under the guidance of Don Garman as her coach. Throughout the eighties and nineties, Don’s teams at El Monte and Industry Hills were annually in the hunt for the SCS JO Championship.

Don grew up in southern California, attending Los Altos High School, and now resides in Irvine, California. Don has recently retired from teaching after a 39-year career. He has a special passion for aviation, photography and computer science. Don has been and continues to be an extraordinary teacher and role model for kids everywhere.

Don’s wife and partner, Bev has been at his side throughout his career and today is actively involved in the success of the Armada as their office manager. Her business savvy has complimented Don’s passion for the sport throughout their first years at the La Mirada Armada and is largely responsible for the success of the program


Chrissy Gentry:
Lakeside Aquatic Club
North Texas Swimming
Head Age Group Coach

Chrissy Gentry brings a wealth of experience in age group swimming and coaching. She has most recently been coaching in High Point, North Carolina from 2006-2015, where she was the Head Age Group Coach at High Point Swim Club (HPSC). While at HPSC, she mentored a variety of swimmers, from those involved in the Learn-To-Swim program through Age Group Sectional Finalists. While in North Carolina, she served on the Local Swimming Committee Board as well as coaching many camps and zone championship teams.

Prior to HPSC, Chrissy spent two years as the Aquatics Director and Head Coach at the American School in Japan. She graduated from Williams College in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. At Williams, she earned four All-American Honors awards in swimming, and was a member of the NCAA Division III Champion rowing team in 2002.


Andrew Marsh:
Lakeside Aquatic Club
North Texas Swimming
Site Head Age Group Coach – The Colony

Andrew started swimming at the age of 9 in his hometown of Bemus Point, NY. He swam for Jamestown High School and the Town of Tonawanda Titans growing up. He was recruited to swim for West Virginia University, where he qualified for the NCAA Championships both Junior and Senior years, as well as the 2016 Olympic Trials. He also won the Big XII Champion title, setting the Big XII Championship meet record in the 100 Backstroke his Senior year.

While at WVU, Andrew was an Age Group Coach at Club Mountaineer and graduated with a degree in Athletic Coaching Education and Sport and Exercise Psychology. Upon graduation from WVU, Andrew worked as an Assistant Senior Swim Coach with NASA Wildcat Aquatics. He also volunteer coached with Northwestern University’s swim team. Andrew took a position with Ithaca College Men’s swim team, where he also pursued a Master’s degree in Sport Psychology. Most recently, Andrew coached at the Longhorn Swim Camp at the University of Texas Austin.


Colin Kennedy:
Cypress Fairbanks Swim Club
Gulf Swimming
Head Age Group Coach

Coach Colin has been coaching since 2003 in St. Louis, MO with his neighborhood summer league and the club team he grew up swimming for. Coached all levels, from learn-to-swim to Olympic Trials qualifiers. Prior to joining FLEET, he was the Head Age Group Coach of the Flyers Aquatic Swim Team, Parkway Swim Club National Prep Coach, Head Coach of the Parkway Swim Club before moving to Fleet to take the Head Age Group Coach position. He’s had 73 individual USA Swimming Top 20 swims, including 43 Top 10 and 37 USA Swimming Top 20 Relays including 25 in the Top 10 (with the #1 9-10 Boys 400 FR LCM Relay in 2019). Had 1 swimmer set a TAGS record and 9 individual TAGS Champions in multiple events, numerous TAGS winning relays. The team has won multiple TAGS team high point awards, and had 1 individual high point winner. Fleet earned the Bill Nixon Team Sportsmanship award in 2021 and the Allen Salinas Gulf Team Sportsmanship Award twice. His swimmers have set 65 Fleet team records (including relays) and counting.

  • He is an ASCA Level 3 Coach
  • LSC Age Group Coach of the Year 2012 for Ozark Swimming
  • LSC Age Group Coach of the Year 2017 for Gulf Swimming

Erin Miller:
Scarlet Aquatics-NJ Wave Swimming
New Jersey Swimming
Head Age Group: Senior Prep Coach

Erin was the 2006 ASCA Age Group Coach of the Year for New Jersey Swimming. She has 25 years experience coaching all ages and abilities. Erin has literally coached at mini meets all the way up to Senior Nationals. Erin is known for her many years at New Jersey Wave where she coached many Sectional level swimmers, High Point Winners, National top 16 Ranked swimmers and State Record Holders. She was also the Head Coach for the summer team, Paramus Pacers for 12 years where they were League Champions many times. Erin was awarded The Craig Beardsley Award in 1999, and was also coached by the former World Record Holder. Erin has represented New Jersey as an Eastern Zone Coach four times. Erin had the opportunity to train at The Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO at a National Select Camp. Erin’s drills have been featuredon the USA Swimming website. She was a Junior National finalist in the 200 fly, as well as a NJCAA All American in the same event. Erin is married to Tom Miller, and has two amazing children Alex and Emma who is starting Ithaca College this Fall. Erin completed the 2009 ING NYC Marathon in her father’s memory. Erin is an ASCA level 3 and a Certified Pool Operator. She has a unique mix of toughness, caring and fun that is hard to find in coaches today!!


Dale Porter:
Bolles Swimming
Florida Swimming
Head Age Group Coach / Head Great Whites

Porter is a familiar face in competitive swimming on the first coast. He came across the river to the Bolles Sharks in 2010 from the Spartan Aquatic Club (SPAC) in Orange Park, where he served as the program’s Head Coach from 2004-10. During his tenure with SPAC, Porter coached swimmers to number one rankings at the local, state, and national level. Porter also served as the Head Coach for St. Johns Country Day School since August of 2004, where he taught physical education.

Porter enters his 33rd year of competitive coaching. Thirteen of those years were spent as an assistant coach at the Lake Erie Silver Dolphins in Ohio, then one of USA Swimming’s Gold Medal Clubs. Porter also served those 13 years as a teacher/coach at the Hawken School in Chesterland, Ohio.

Awarded the 2011 Florida Swimming’s Age Group Coach of The Year, Dale Porter’s experience is only equaled by his enthusiasm for teaching and coaching. An established and highly respected coach in Florida Swimming, Porter brings a wealth of experience and a great store of excitement to the Bolles Sharks Age Group program. He has presented talks at the 2012 and 2014 ASCA World Clinics, 2015 San Diego Age Group Coach’s Clinic, 2013 Legends of Texas Coach’s Clinic, and for USA Swimming’s online clinics. He has served USA Swimming as a manager for the 2018 Jr. Pan Pacs, 2017 Jr. World Championships, 2017 Western Zone Select Camp, 2015 & 2016 Open Water Select Camps, the 2016 National Junior Team Camp., and as an assistant coach for the 2014 National Select Camp. Highly regarded for his outstanding coaching, depth of knowledge, leadership, enthusiasm, and humility, Porter creates an exciting dynamic on the Bolles Sharks coaching staff and within the team itself.


Gabriela Sofia:
Long Island Aquatic Club
Metropolitan Swimming
Head Age Group Coach

Gabi is the Head Age Group Coach at Long Island Aquatic Club (LIAC) in Long Island, New York. She was born and raised in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Gabi says, “I fell in love with the water at the age of 8, kickstarting my swimming career and building it over years all the way up to competing for the Lithuanian National Team.” Gabi moved to the US in 2003 to provide better opportunities for her children and has been working at LIAC since 2007 and in that time, worked with swimmers of every level in LIAC program — from developmental novices to high-achieving National level athletes. As a result, Gabi was named the Head Age Group Coach in 2017 — a role she is proud to play in the Club to this day. LIAC’s Age Group Program has steadily grown over the last few years, culminating into 12 individuals Nationally Ranked for this past season, 11 individual swims in the Top 10 this season. Aside from being a swim coach, Gabi is also a certified Sports Nutritionist and ASCA Level 4 coach. Gabi says, “I strive to cultivate an environment of success for our Age Group staff and myself, but I find it even more important to grow our young athletes into successful individuals — both inside and outside of the pool. Being an Age Group coach is exciting — in addition to teaching the athletes the ins-and-outs of swimming, I am given the opportunity to help them build the tools, learn the skills, and live the experiences that will let them grow into the best versions of themselves!”


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