Head Coach and Darien YMCA Competitive Swim Director
Henk, an ASCA Level IV Coach, starts his 16th 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 broken numerous Team and CT State records, many of his swimmers have gone on to compete at the collegiate level including NCAA National Champions and he has developed multiple YMCA National Champions, USA Senior and Junior National qualifiers. In 2008 one of Henk’s swimmers, Peter Geissinger ,represented the Piranha at 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 2012-2016 and Coach-at-Large Chair from 2016-2018. Henk resides in Shelton with his wife Michele, daughters Olivia, Avery, Violet and his son Zach.
Head Age Group Coach
Liz Blau is starting her 9th year of coaching with the Piranhas and her 7th 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 on the Team from House to Senior as well as the Darien YMCA Master’s group. Liz resides in Stamford with her husband Fritz and their two children Billy and Haley.
Assistant Coach and YMCA 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 Assistant Aquatics Director
Brittany, the Darien YMCA’s Assistant Aquatics Director and Waterfront Director, starts her 4th year of coaching with the Piranhas. She is a recent graduate of Human Development and Family Studies from UCONN. Along with her duties as Coach and Aquatics Director, she is the head instructor for the Y progressive and private lessons program. Brittany is a former Westhill High Swimming standout and Water Polo player at Drexel University. She works primarily with the P90. She resides in Stamford with her finance Jessie D’Andrea.
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.
Carl, an accomplished open water swimmer, is starting his second year with the Piranhas. He started his swimming career teaching cognitively disabled children while attending High School in Pennsylvania. He began his open water swimming career in 2011 at the age of 48. Starting out with ocean mile swims, Carl has progressed to longer swims and crossings such as the Potomac River 7.5 miler, Europe to Asia (in Turkey) 4 miler and the 4.4 mile Chesapeake Bay Swim. He is a Darien YMCA member who continues to swim 4 – 5 days per week. Carl, a field engineer who has worked all over the world has raised two kids while residing in Pennsylvania. He currently lives in the local area while working in New York City in High Rise Construction.
Jesse, a former Piranha and recent graduate of Wheaton College, joins the Piranhas year round staff after working the last three summers as a seasonal Assistant Coach. She graduate with a degree in Graphic Design and Fine Arts. She was a four year member of the Wheaton Varsity Swim Team where she was voted captain her senior year. An accomplished backstroker she brings a wealth of youth and exuberance to the Piranha staff. She currently resides in Darien.