Team Coaches and
Board of Directors
We welcome your input. If you have questions related to workouts, technique, swim meets or goal setting please contact one of our coaches. For administrative questions such as dues, safety or policy issues, please contact our board members at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rudy Espino Substitute Coach
Rudy started swimming at the age of eight in Panama City, Panama. He loved the competitiveness and individual traits of the sport but mostly he loved the swimming community. Rudy had a great swimming career, and retired from the sport in 1995. He joined the Chicago Smelts in 2003 and enjoys helping the swimmers reach their goals, be it improving technique or achieving personal bests at the Illinois Masters State Meet.
Dan started swimming competitively at age eight with the Crafton Crocodiles (Pennsylvania), the same team where his dad swam, where he won the "Future Great" award and set a record in the 25 back. At age 12 he ditched backstroke in favor of breaststroke, but told his coach he could "swim pretty much anything" and got stuck doing the IM for the rest of his life. In high school he was Pennsylvania All-State in the 100 breaststroke. After college he got back into swimming and was recruited to be an assistant coach at the Carlynton Aqua Club and then had the privilege of returning to the Crafton Crocodiles as head coach before moving to Chicago and joining the Smelts.
Brock grew up in the Pacific Northwest, spent his summers swimming in the mountain lakes and his family's backyard pool, and swam at a Spokane-area age group club throughout high school. In high school, Brock began coaching for the city rec league and went on to lifeguard and teach swimming throughout college, including a master's swim team in Portland, Oregon. In 2013 Brock swam in his first IGLA (International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics) Championship and found the family of gay swimmers across the globe. He joined the Seattle Orca Swim Team shortly thereafter and coached this team as well. He is committed to promoting inclusion in athletics, especially among queer people in aquatics, and to promoting community through sport.
Barry started swimming in his bathtub at three weeks old and never looked back. He swam competitively in high school in the D.C. area, where he discovered his lifelong love for breaststroke, and then in college for MIT. Within that time frame he discovered the international swimming scene and has been hooked ever since - even when that means having to wake up at 2am in order to watch the live feed from the Shanghai World Championships. Last year, Barry found an outlet to channel both his math and swim nerddom as a semi-regular contributor for SwimSwam Magazine. You can recognize his writing by the excessive ratio of numbers to words.
Substitute Coach: Steve started swimming when he was eight years old. In an early act of defiance, he registered for the local swim team to sidestep his mother's rule of "no swimming unless it's over 80 degrees outside." That was the beginning of his five-day-a-week swims. Steve joined the Chicago Smelts in 1992 to prepare for the 1994 Gay Games IV in New York, then took about eight years off and rejoined in 2006 for the Gay Games VII held here in Chicago, and has been swimming with the Smelts ever since. His favorite stroke and events are the 50 and 100 butterfly.
Lauren Gumbel Substitute Coach
Since crying through her first swim lesson at age 3, Lauren has developed a strong aversion to land sports. She swam competitively at her high school, Oak Park River Forest, and in college at Carnegie Mellon University, primarily swimming the 100 Butterfly and 50 Freestyle. Lauren recently followed her love of water to Sydney, Australia, and has had recent forays into triathlons and open water races. She has been coaching since high school, including little kiddos in summer league and Team Millennium, as well as Master's teams here and in Sydney.
Meg Hiestand Substitute Coach
Meg started swimming at the age of nine, because she wanted to be just like her big sister. At age 11, she was picked out by a coach to do the butterfly for a relay for being "exceptionally strong for her age " and the rest is history. Meg swam competitively through middle school and high school, eventually competing at the collegiate level for Allegheny College, a D-3 school. She was a member of the record setting of the 400-Medley relay team, a record which still stands today. She loves to wake up early and clock a swim at Jones College Prep, watch baseball and has been a member of the Smelts since 2014. Meg is excited to start her first year as a sub and would love to talk to you about doing your stroke sets all fly - believe in yourself!
Kelly McNichols Substitute Coach
Kelly McNichols first started swimming with her local YMCA at the age of 9 and ended up swimming at The University of Georgia alongside teammate and Smelts coach Anna Miller. She recently coached with Anna on the Midtown Athletic Club's masters program after returning from a 4 year stint abroad in Prague and Ireland where she also coached and competed in swimming and water polo. She has been teaching swimming to adults and children since she was 14, starting as a summer league coach and lifeguard in Naperville's park district swim league. Kelly is a 9 time All-American and competed in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Trials in 6 different events. She enjoys running stroke clinics and helping swimmers and triathletes perfect their technique.
Alexis Puhala Substitute Coach
Alexis grew up in western Pennsylvania and started swimming competitively after her parents bribed her with a cat to join summer swim league for "a season." A season turned into 14 years and naturally, more cats. During her hiatus from competitive swimming, she was still in the water often either playing water polo, coaching, or teaching swim lessons. While her first love was breaststroke she's now head over heels for distance freestyle. Her goggles of choice are Swedish.
Board of Directors
Registrar: John Swarens
Treasurer: JJ Conoscenti
Interested in Participating
on the Board of Directors?
The Chicago Smelts rely on a rotating volunteer board of directors, comprised of two co-chairs, one treasurer, one registrar and two social co-chairs. Board members serve two-year terms, and all team members who have been registered with the Smelts for more than six months are eligible to run for office. Every year in April the team receives a call for nominations. Team members are able to self-nominate and complete an application which asks for information on why they want to serve and what particular skills they bring to the position. The entire team then receives copies of the applications and is given roughly a week to vote. Results are distributed to the team, and new board members assume duties on June 1 of each year. Please consider giving back to the team by running for the board!
Interested in Coaching?
If you're a current, former or aspiring swim coach and would like to offer your services to the team we'd love to have you on board. Please get in touch with our board at email@example.com.
We're always looking for help on smaller projects. Do you have a special skill and want to lend a hand? This is just a partial list of the kind of people we'd like to meet - yoga/fitness instructors, event planners, digital marketers, accountants, attorneys, historians, photographers, graphic designers, artists, merchandisers, etc. Please get in touch with one of the team Co-Chairs.