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WOLF Coaching Staff

David Bentz

Head Coach

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Even though most know Dave as a swimming coach, he began his relationship with the swimming world in the water. Swimming in high school, Dave found success in the 200 and 500 yard freestyle that took him to the University of Minnesota. Before graduating with a degree in physical education and child psychology, Dave had already started making his mark as a coach. He not only helped start the ABC Aquatic Club (Anoka, Blaine, and Coon Rapids), Dave also became manager and assistant coach at the Olympic Training Center (OTC). While working at the OTC, he gained invaluable experience working with multiple Olympians and Olympic coaches – notably George Haines, a seven-time coach of the Olympic team.

Dave took his knowledge of swimming and became head coach of the Bloomington Aquatic Club, and within his six-years turned the Bloomington Aquatic Club around from a struggling club to a championship program. Next, Dave teamed up with John Thomas to run the first ever coach owned club in Minnesota: Marauder Aquatic Club, winning age group titles, sending athletes to junior nationals, senior nationals, and the Olympic trials. With that level of success, it’s no surprise that Dave was recruited to coach at the newly opened University of Minnesota Natatorium with the Gopher Swim Club; his success continued with him sending swimmers to senior nationals, and taking one athlete from the state to the world level.

After an attempted retirement from the swimming world, the siren song of swimming brought Dave back to once again coach at Northern Lights Aquatics (formerly ABC Aquatic). Dave went on to found our Great Wolf Swim Team in 2004 and once again found himself master of rapid success, coaching athletes to achieve: state records, national records, Olympic trial qualifiers, NCAA individual titles, and a 13-year old NCAA record.

We are honored to have David Bentz as our founder, head coach, and living testimony of our mission to help all swimmers maximize their potential.

Chip Fechter

Age Group Coach

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As a result of his ability to produce numerous age-group champions, junior national champions, senior national swimmers, and Olympic trial qualifiers, Chip has been recognized as one of the top developmental swimming coaches in the United States. This success is fueled through his progressive nurturing style, ability to coach the basics of competitive strokes, and his passing on the love for the sport on to his athletes. Chip has also had success coaching at the high school level, helping many swimmers achieve All-American status; we’re very happy that Chip has made his home in the club swimming world with Great Wolf Swim Team.

Blair Eckstrom

Age Group Coach

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Zack Anthony Strumbell

Senior Coach

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Zack grew up in Eveleth Minnesota. He learned to swim because his parents could not. He started taking lessons at the local YMCA, and then after watching his sister join the school swim team, he and his twin brother decided they would give it a try. He swam for Eveleth Gilbert High School under the direction of Minnesota Hall of Fame coach Gordy Rodby. While swimming in high school Zack earned 4 individual Minnesota state titles, was a 3 time Scholastic All-American, and a 2 time All-American. He also broke many high school records (which are still there today), the high school class A state record in the 200 freestyle, and his senior year was named Minnesota Swimmer of the Year.

Zack started his club swimming journey as a 13-14 year old for Dave Bentz at the Great Wolf Swim Team. While swimming for Great Wolf Zack was top 16 in the 50 free in the 13-14 age group, and along with his teammates also broke 2 national age group records for relays and re-wrote the record books for Minnesota club swimming in numerous relays for 13-14 and 15-16. He qualified for Junior Nationals as a 15 year old, and had the chance to travel around the country going to many national and international level meets. Zack went on to swim for California Polytechnic State University where he broke 3 school relay records and also the 100 butterfly record, and qualified for the U.S. Open the summer after freshman year.

He started his coaching journey in October of 2011 under the direction of Dave Bentz. He now is the assistant national coach. Zack has taken part in coaching swimmers who have ranked the top in the nation, set Minnesota club state records, achieved multiple Minnesota state titles, qualified for Junior Nationals, and was ranked number one in the country. Zack is fortunate enough to say he coaches for the team that taught him so much, not only about swimming, but about life. Zack is lucky to have such a great group of kids to work with and looks forward to what is possible in the future. “The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible”

Elizabeth L Starke

Director of Communications

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Little did Liz know that bringing home a flyer in first grade would ignite a passion for swimming, and subsequently guide the next twenty years of her life. She began her swimming career with the Northern Lights Aquatic team. Liz’s dedication paid off with vast age group success, earning: many top eight performances, multiple first place finishes, and highpoint awards.

Liz’s success with swimming continued in to her time in the senior group with the now Great Wolf Swim Team. She was honored as an All-American, held an impressive variety of high school records and Great Wolf records, and participated in numerous Junior National swimming meets.

After graduating from high school, Liz accepted a Division I scholarship to Florida Atlantic University where she balanced her study of international business and trade, marketing, and business law with a successful collegiate swimming career. By the time she graduated, Liz had earned herself the school record in the 100 Butterfly along with multiple senior national times.

As Director of Communications and Swimmer Development, Liz takes what she has learned in and out of the pool to ensure that Great Wolf Swim Team continues to be a high-caliber swim club.

Amy Reed-Hall

Age Group Coach

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Amy started swimming competitive at age 10 for the Saint Paul Swim Club.  Prior to joining the team, she had never swum a lap or even passed beginner level swimming lessons.  After an interesting first year, she began to master the four strokes.  As her swimming progressed she became a nationally ranked swimmer in multiple events, won many age group titles and broke several state records.  As a club swimmer she qualified for junior nationals, senior nationals and went to the Olympic trials in 1984 in Indianapolis Indiana. 

Amy’s high school career began in eight grade when she joined Johnson High School’s swim team and went to state in the 50 freestyle placing 2nd in finals.  From 9th grade through 12th she won the 100 butterfly state titles and held the state record for over a decade.   Overall, she achieved 5 first place finishes, 4 second place finishes and was a high school All-American.

After graduating high school Amy attended Arizona State University on a swimming scholarship.  There she specialized in the 100 and 200 butterfly and freestyle sprints.  While at ASU she qualified for NCAA’s in both individual events and relays. 

In January 2013, her daughter joined the Great Wolf Swim Team and Amy eventually made her way onto the pool deck to coach.  She is excited about the energy the age group swimmers have and is thrilled to be working alongside some of the best coaches in USA swimming.  

John Thomas

Head Age Group Coach

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Great Wolf Swim Team is honored to have a swim coach who began his career before the popularization of swimming goggles and the 25-yard competition pool, Coach John. Starting his career in the swimming world at St. Paul Highland Park High School, John learned of the elation standing on a podium can bring when he qualified and placed at the state meet.

John went on the swim with Gustavus Adolphus College, in one of the few remaining 20-yard pools and still with no goggles. Nevertheless, by the time John left with his degree in health and physical education, he had also earned the title of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) champion in the 50 free.

Success followed John into his coaching career. At Burnsville High School, he led his swimmers to state finals and coached the first high school swimmer to break two minutes in the 200 Individual Medley. At Mounds View Swim Club, John coached our very own Dave Bentz. After a respite from the swimming world, John returned to coach at the Bloomington Aquatic Club with the now Coach Dave. John also lent his talents to the Edina High School girls swimming, achieving: three state championships in five years, four consecutive 100 butterfly state championships, national high school record in 100 breast stroke, and aptly earning Coach of the Year. John then coached the Marauder Aquatic Club with similar success.

After a venture at the Saint Paul Hotel and the University Club in St. Paul, John found his way back to coaching alongside Dave with the Great Wolf Swim Team. With insistence on proper technique, race strategy, and “finding a way no one ever imagined,” John helps coach all of his swimmers to insurmountable success.

Whitney Clark

Age Group Coach

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Kasey Fox

Age Group Coach

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Lana Yackel

Age Group Coach

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Heidi Colburn

Age Group Coach

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After four years of diving, Heidi switched to swimming her junior year of high school after suffering from an injury running track and field. Finding immediate success in the 50 yard freestyle, Heidi went on to help break a high school relay record and a Minnesota club swimming state relay record with the Great Wolf Swim Team.

Heidi took her success to the College of Saint Benedict where she swam sprint freestyle and backstroke. An all-around athlete, Heidi was recruited to throw for the college track and field team. After two collegiate sports proved too much, Heidi left swimming to focus on her success in track and field. By the time she graduated with her degree in English and secondary education, Heidi had broken the school record in the 20# weight throw, and earned various awards and honors.

Shortly following her accepting a teaching job at Hibbing High School, Heidi was recruited to coach. In her three years at HHS, Heidi accumulated vast experience: six seasons as assistant swimming and head diving coach, one year assistant track and field coach, and two years as the head girls’ track and field coach. After taking a break from coaching and finishing two marathons, Heidi has brought her well-rounded coaching experience and passion for the sport of swimming to her work with Great Wolf.