SwimRVA is fortunate to have a highly-skilled, experienced team of aquatics leaders from around the Richmond area and around the country. From our front office staff to our water polo coaches, we’re as friendly and welcoming as we are passionate and driven.
An outdoor education graduate from SUNY, Ryan has been in the aquatics and recreation education sector for most of his life. Starting out as a lifeguard when he was 15 that the YMCA in Ithica, New York, Ryan returned there to work as the director of operations years later. Ryan has worked at aquatic facilities, hotels, water parks just to name a few. Soon after accepting a teaching job at Cornell University, Ryan received a call from the Safety School at SwimRVA asking him to check out the program. Ryan came down and hasn’t left us since!
Ryan once spent 2 weeks backpacking through the forest of Costa Rica.
The thing Ryan loves most about working here at SwimRVA is the people. He really enjoys the collaboration with staff and the eagerness from the members.
Scott Bennett is a Richmond native. He grew up around water and swimming for summer leagues, and has a box of ribbons to prove it! Scott studied Recreation, Parks and Tourism Management at Radford University. He worked as the Facility Coordinator for the Christiansburg Aquatic Center before coming back home. He now enjoys sharing the amazing stories of the clients he serves at SwimRVA as the Director of Communications. He also enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife, three crazy young boys and his dog.
Coach Ben started swimming at 3 with the Chesterfield Aquatic League (CAL) from 3 until 18, and the Y- League from 3 until 18, where he also coached for five years! He swam while out Kansas for a period before coming to SwimRVA. Being a sprint swimmer, Coach Ben loves swimming the 50 Free and 100 Free. A couple of his favorite locations to swim were at KU and Florida. Ben wants to make sure Rapids swimmers become well rounded teammates, saying, “I want kids to get fun, learning, and a sense of unity from being a member of this team.”
Elise has a passion for fitness and wellness. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a bachelor’s in exercise science. While at VCU, Elise worked with the aquatics department, lifeguarding and teaching swimming lessons. She then went on to be an instructor t the aquatics facility before coming to SwimRVA.
Elsie is a world traveler, having been to over 10 different countries.
She loves working at swimRVA and building new relationships with the staff and members. She is a proud supporter of SwimRVA’s mission.
Jacob has been with SwimRVA for two years and serves as the Head Water Polo Coach and Coaching Specialist at SwimRVA which encompasses the SwimRVA Water Polo program, Learn-To-Swim program, SwimRVA Swim School and the SwimRVA Autism Swims program. Jacob has an extensive background in swimming, both coaching, and competing. He joined his first swim team when he was 5 years old and continued until he started coaching at 18 years old. In high school, Jacob was captain of the swim team and the lacrosse team. He played water polo for two summers while helping organize the Lake Ridge Water Polo club. In the summer of 2018 Jacob also served as the head coach for Meadowbrook Country Club.
Jonathan comes to SwimRVA after a very successful two years as the head coach at the Dolphin Club in Richmond. In two years Jonathan grew the club from 63 to 183 athletes. Jonathan believes in each child’s potential and growing relationships one swimmer, one family at a time. While at Dolphin Club, the team improved in USA Swimming’s virtual club rankings from 31st to 23rd in the state and 1955th to 958th nationally. At Virginia Swimming’s age group champs the team improved from 30th (27 points) to 15th (291 points) and his girls team finished 9th overall, while also having a Top 15 team finish (Top 10 Girls) at Senior Champs for the first time in team history.
Prior to Dolphin Club, Jonathan served as the assistant director of competitive swimming at YMCA of Triangle Area. As head coach of the Gold group he tutored 50 YMCA National qualifiers, 5 YMCA national finalists, 12 NCSA Junior National qualifiers, 2 USA-Swimming Winter Junior National and 1 USA-Swimming Winter National qualifier. Jonathan helped YOTA grow to 600 members and earn Top 25 rankings in USA Swimming’s Virtual Club Championship. While at YOTA, Jonathan worked with over 130 athletes with video instruction and stroke analyzation.
Before heading to Raleigh, Kaplan coached in Richmond for NOVA of Virginia Aquatics as the head coach of the Senior Silver group and assistant coach of Senior Gold. Jonathan’s Senior Silver group included 16 NCSA Junior National, 6 USA Swimming Winter Junior National and 1 USA Swimming Winter National Championship qualifier, 1 National Age Group Record participant, and 14 Virginia State Records. While at NOVA the team earned a 3rd place overall team finish at the 2014 Spring NCSA Championships, an overall Virginia State Championship and a 6th place overall team ranking in the USA Swimming Virtual Club Championships. Jonathan help in the organization and create of the first ever Henrico County high school swimming program.
From 2006 to 2013 Jonathan was the head swim coach of the Panama City Swim Team. While head coach the year round membership grew from 65 to 250 members. PCST earned bronze medal club status for USA Swimming Club Excellence. In 2012, PCST had its first ever swimmer compete at the USA Swimming Olympic Team Trials. In addition, Kaplan tutored 3 swimmers who qualified for USA Swimming’s Summer National Championship, 3 qualifiers to USA Swimming’s Summer Junior National Championship, 11 NCSA qualifiers, 1 USA Swimming Junior National Runner Up, 1 US Open Finalist, 5 SES Champions, 2 LSC records, 3 HS All-Americans and 6 Florida High School State Champions. In 2011, PCST won Southeastern Swimming Medium Team Championship. 17 of Kaplan’s swimmers went on to compete in the NCAA. One of Jonathan’s greatest accomplishments includes the fortune of coaching a high school valedictorian in 6 consecutive years while at PCST.
Jonathan is a graduate of Florida State University where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Sport Management and his Master of Science in Sport Administration. He resides in Richmond with his wife, Jessica, and their two sons Rowan and Finlay. Needless to say, he and his family are excited for the Rise of the Rapids here with SwimRVA!
Debbie is our Director of Programs at SwimRVA and more affectionately known as “The Brains” of the operation. Debbie has her Bachelor’s degree in physical education and business; she studied sports management for her Master’s and received a Doctorate in adult education and human resource development.
Danielle was born and raised here Richmond, Virginia. Danielle is pursuing her degree and study Early Childhood Education. Danielle’s favorite thing about SwimRVA is their mission to elevate swimming in the Richmond region making water safety and aquatic fitness more accessible to all, and her time being a swimming instructor for SwimRVA.
Jen has been in aquatics since she was 15 years old. Her first job was working as a swim instructor under her swim coach. A graduate of Mary Washington, she began working at the YMCA in Fredricksburg, in the summer of 2021 she joined the team at SwimRVA north working as a lifeguard there. In the fall after the summer season, she decided to join us at our main location!
Jen has also previously worked in finance for over 10 years before making the career change over to aquatics!
What Jen loves most about working at swimRVA is the people. She loves training the lifeguards and seeing everyone become confident in the water. She also loves how well trained the staff is here. From the top-down, she can count on everyone being here knowing how to operate with professionalism and competency.
Jordan Pearson grew up in Fredericksburg, Virginia before moving to Newport News, Virginia to get her Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies at Christopher Newport University. During her time in college, Jordan explored writing and storytelling, hoping to carry those skills through her career. She graduated in 2020 and moved to Richmond, Virginia to join the SwimRVA Team in 2021 as the Communications Coordinator.
Jordan was drawn to SwimRVA for the ways in which the nonprofit benefits the community as a whole, providing access and opportunities to aquatic education and experience to those who may never have otherwise had the opportunity. With a background in social media writing, Jordan hopes to continue to spread SwimRVA’s stories with the community.
Jay Peluso, a two-time All-American swimmer, hails from Cumberland, RI and is the head coach for the SwimRVA Hammerheads.
He graduated from UMass with a degree in Sports Management where he was a seven time New England Swimming Champion and a starter on the 1993 New England Champion water polo squad. He earned his law degree from the University of Richmond in 1996 and was inducted into the RI Aquatics Hall of Fame in 2004. Coach Jay’s triathlon and open water career highlights include being a five-time member of USAT’s Age Group World Championship team and a second place finish at the USMS 2-Mile Cable Swim National Championships.
He is currently the Co-Owner and Race Director for the IGNITE SwimRun Series, the first ever multi-state SwimRun series in the U.S.
Rebecca has worked in aquatics for more than half of her life (17 years and counting!). She loves everything about it, but her particular passion has always been to help provide opportunities for people to get in and enjoy the water who would not normally do so. In addition to everything from parent-child sessions to adult swim training, she has also taught lifeguard certification classes to Richmond area lifesavers for 6 years. A dedicated water safety advocate, she also manages our in-house lifeguards and helps to ensure that the day-to-day operations of our complex run smoothly.
Natalie was born in and raised in Richmond. She learned to swim at the JCC and joined the Dolphin Club at age four. Natalie swam competitively on the NOVA swim team from 1997 to 2010, an experience she credits with teaching her self-discipline and the value of hard work. She studied Journalism and Public Relations at VCU and earned her Master’s Degree in Strategic Public Relations from the Robertson School of Media and Culture. Natalie is passionate about making mental and physical wellness accessible to all people in the Richmond community. She loves working for SwimRVA because the Drownproof Richmond initiative allows her to share her love of swimming with children in underserved communities. When she’s not in the pool, you can find Natalie cycling somewhere in the mountains.
Originally from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Krystal grew up traveling most of her life due to her father’s military career before settling in Columbia, South Carolina. However, her best memories are of the times she spent on the beach with her family in Puerto Rico. Having grandparents who lived only two blocks from the beach taught her to love the water! After joining the SwimRVA family in 2021, Krystal is driven to not only use aquatics to enrich the lives of people, but also to connect communities through aquatics and provide them with a chance to learn to swim. Another thing she enjoys the most about being a member of the SwimRVA family is the camaraderie!
Krystal graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Visual Art and Design (SVAD) with a degree in Media Arts, and is also a graduate of Midlands Technical College with a degree in Art. She has held various positions in the field of media and design, including Graphic Designer for Carolina Retail Packaging and Multimedia Assistant for the City of Columbia, South Carolina before moving to Virginia to be closer to family.
Maia has worked in aquatics and safety for roughly 15 years. She started her love for the water, literally, when she had a crush on a lifeguard as a little girl. Her passion for aquatics has led to her being a steadfast employee of SwimRVA.
Growing up in Oklahoma, Maia is a professionally trained ranch hand!
Maia loves working at SwimRVA to see people challenge themselves daily. She loves to see the wellness members be committed to living healthy life.
Kim is your customer service expert! Kim wears many hats that includes making sure your visit to SwimRVA is the best it can be. She also oversees concessions, hospitality, birthday parties, and all administrative work for the organization.
Kim’s major passions outside of work would be her kids. Her family is always on the move with sports and school activities. She also helps take care of two exchange students which also add to the crazy mix of sports and school activities. Another passion is being able to do the score books/table for both our schools volleyball and basketball teams. Kim loves being able to go to the games and be that team mom to a wonderful group of kids and see them learn to work together and become great team players to bring home some awesome victories!
As a child/teenager Kim played several instruments and was also part of her high school show choir. She always loved to sing and would love to be able to sing more often again.
Her personal motto is: “You can make someone’s day by giving a smile, showing kindness and being humble with everything you do. Always give it your best in everything you do!”