Head Coach and Darien YMCA Competitive Swim Director
Henk, an ASCA Level IV Coach, starts his 15th year with the Piranha Swim Team. Before joining the Piranhas, he was an Assistant Coach with the OMNI Swim Club of New Haven from 1999-2004, Head Coach at East Haven Swim Club from 1997-98, and a Volunteer Assistant at Southern Connecticut State University for the 1997-98 season while working full-time as a Computer Analyst for SNET (now AT&T) in New Haven. Henk graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Corporate Communications and a minor in Computer Science. Over the course of his 20 year coaching career Henk’s swimmers have broke numerous Team and CT State records, he has sent numerous swimmers to compete at the collegiate level including NCAA National Champions and has developed multiple YMCA National Champions, USA Senior and Junior National qualifiers. In 2008 Henk coached Piranha Peter Geissinger to the 2008 USA Olympic Team Trials in Omaha, Nebraska. In 2006, for his accomplishments and contributions to the sport of swimming, Henk was inducted into the East Haven High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame and in 2007 he was honored by his alma mater, Southern Connecticut with the Bruce Hutchinson Alumni Award. From 2006-2010 Henk served as Connecticut Swimming’s Senior Chair, the Chair of the Technical Planning Committee from 2012-1016 and is currently the Coach-at-Large Chair. Henk resides in Shelton with his wife Michele, daughters Olivia, Avery, Violet and his son Zach.
Liz Blau is starting her 7th year of coaching with the Piranhas and her 5th as a full-time coach. Liz brings a wealth of coaching experience and knowledge to the Piranhas. Before joining the Piranhas, Liz was the Men’s and Women’s Head Swim Coach at Division I Rutgers University. She was an Assistant Coach for YMCA powerhouse Red Bank Y as well as an Assistant Coach for one of the top Swim Clubs in the east, Scarlet Aquatic Club of New Jersey. Liz works with every group from House to Senior. She is a huge asset to the program. Liz resides in Stamford with her husband Fritz and their two children Billy and Haley.
Jordan, an ASCA Level III Coach and a 4 year Division II Swimming All-American while at Southern Connecticut State University, starts his 5th year of coaching with the Piranhas. Before joining the Piranhas, Michael was the Head Developmental Coach at Norwalk’s Zeus Swim Team, Assistant Head Coach at the Trumbull Pisces and Swim Team Director at the Jewish Community Center in Bridgeport. Michael has over 20 years of experience in Aquatics coaching, teaching and directing. He has coached countless CT Age Group and CT Senior qualifiers and brings a wealth of swimming and coaching knowledge to the Piranhas. Michael earned his Bachelors of Science degree in Recreation from SCSU in 1996. He currently resides in Milford, CT with his wife Linda, daughters Grace, Abigail, Eden, and son, Caleb.
Assistant Coach and YMCA Aquatics Director
Jim Matthews, the Darien YMCA Aquatics and Waterfront Director is the longest tenured Piranha Coach on staff. Before joining the Darien YMCA in 2000, Jim was an Aquatics Director at the Wilton YMCA. He has taught hundreds, if not thousands, of kids how to swim in the Fairfield County Area. He brings decades of coaching and teaching experience to the Piranhas. His duties with the Piranhas include working primarily with the Maia group. He is a native of Rainbow Lakes, NJ, and currently resides in Stamford with wife Susanna.
Assistant Coach and YMCA Assistant Aquatics Director
Amy, starting her 10th year of coaching with the Piranhas, is the Darien YMCA Aquatics Programming Director. Before joining the Darien YMCA, Amy coached and taught swim lessons at the Merrimack Valley YMCA in Andover, Mass. She was a competitive swimmer, diver and synchronized swimmer and is a graduate of Springfield College with a degree in Psychology. With the Piranhas, she works primarily with the Maia group. She resides in Stamford with her husband Dan and their children Jessie, Mia, Samantha and Daniel.
Jessica (Johnston) Barnes
Jessica starts her 7th year of coaching with the Piranhas. She was a full-time Piranha Assistant from 2010-11 before she moved back to Syracuse for a year. She is a graduate of Lemoyne College in upstate New York with a degree in Psychology. While at Lemoyne she was a four year member of the Lemoyne Varsity Swim Team and captain her senior year. Since coming to the Piranhas she has coached every group on the Team and has assisted on many of the Senior travel meet trips. She works primarily with the Nautilus and Poseidon groups. She is a native of Syracuse, New York and currently resides in Norwalk with her husband Michael.
Assistant Coach and YMCA Lessons Coordinator
Brittany, a recent graduate of Human Development and Family Studies from UCONN, starts her 4th year of coaching with the Piranhas. Along with her duties as Coach, she is the head instructor for the Y progressive and private lessons program and YMCA’s Camp Waterfront Director. Brittany is a former Westhill High Swimming standout and Water Polo player at Drexel University. She works primarily with the Nautilus, Neptune and Poseidon groups. She resides in Stamford.
Hilde, a current Darien YMCA Masters Swimmer and a 1991 graduate of St John University in New York, starts her 2nd season of coaching with the Piranhas. She was a scholarship swimmer at St. Johns in New York and graduated with a degree in Finance. She is currently the COO of Helicopter Flight Services and an accomplished Masters swimmer. Hilde has qualified for the Masters World Championship the last three years and was a double silver medalist at the Norwegian Masters National in 2015. She works primarily with the Neptune, Nautilus and Poseidon groups. She currently resides in Darien with her husband, John and sons Andreas and Nicholas.