"Providing a world class aquatics program for all members to develop their full potential as athletes and individuals in
 a safe and positive environment."
Gulf Swimming
Level 3
Excellence 300

Coaches and Directors

Coaches and Directors
Coaching Staff
Travis Sandifer Executive Director

Coach Travis Sandifer has 25+ years of swim coaching experience and is an ASCA level 4 coach. He has spent most of his coaching career in the GULF with USA Swimming Clubs, 20 years with KATY Aquatics as both Head Age Group and Head Coach. He has also coached at Aquastar and Pearland Aquatics. During his coaching tenure, Coach Travis has developed swimmers that have competed and excelled at many levels ranging from local age group meets, TAGS Champions, Junior National and US Open Finalist to competing at Canadian and USA Swimming Olympic Trials.

  • As the Head Coach of KATY Aquatics, his team placed in the top 100 out of 2400+ USA Swimming Club teams in the Virtual Club Championship rankings for 8 straight seasons from LC 2004 to SC 2006/07.
  • His swimmers have placed in USA Swimming’s National rankings (Top-16) over 60 times.
  • He has coached swimmers that received 40+ USA Scholastic All-American Awards.
  • He has been awarded Gulf Swimming Coach of the year award 4 times, twice as Age Group Coach of the Year (1996 and 1997) and twice as the Senior Coach of the Year (2001 and 2005).

Coach Travis has stayed actively involved in swimming governance holding various positions on USA Swimming Committee’s and the Gulf LSC Board of Directors. He currently serves on the Gulf board as Operational Risk Coordinator.

  • Gulf General Chair (2017-2019)
  • Gulf Swimming Safety Chairman (2016-2017)
  • Gulf Swimming Safe Sport Coordinator (2013-2017)
  • Gulf Swimming Board of Directors (1998-2007 and 2010-present)
  • Gulf Swimming Open Water Coordinator (2003-2007)
  • USA Swimming Domestic Open Water Committee (2003-2006)
  • Gulf Swimming - Senior Vice-Chairman (2000-2002)
  • Gulf Swimming Age Group Vice-Chairman (1998-2000)

Coach Travis has a degree in Economics from the University of Houston. He enjoys fishing, kayaking and camping in his spare time. He has a daughter Paige, who recently graduated from Texas A&M University and has continued to live and work in College Station, Texas.

Office Hours: Mon - Fri 9:00AM-5:00PM

Angela Golightly Team Administrator

Angela began coaching in 1995 as an Assistant Coach for the Cimarron Swim Team for three years, and then continued as their Head Coach for five more years. While attending the University of Houston, Angela coached at Katy Aquatics and Alief Aquatics in the late 90's. In 2010, Angela returned to Katy Aquatics as a competitive Coach. Then in 2013, she began a new chapter with Katy Aquatics as their Team Administrator.

Angela grew up in the Katy area where she participated on the Cimarron Swim Team for 13 years.  She was also a member of the Katy High School Swim Team where she gained the love for swimming with all of the challenges and excellence of being an athlete. She has enjoyed watching the growth of swimming in the Katy area, and looks forward to the future with Katy Aquatics.

Office Hours:  Mon - Fri  9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Bill Bailey Head Coach

Coach Bailey has been coaching in the Gulf for over 25 years.  He has served as both Head Age Group and Head Coach for several of the teams in the area and received the honor of Gulf Age Group Coach of the year in 2003 & 2004.  Coach Bailey began his swimming career in 1984 with First Colony Swim Team, qualifying and finaling at Junior Nationals.  He went on to swim at Henderson State University.  He has two boys ages 8 and 12.

Tanja Avant Assistant Coach-ASCA 5 Education

ASCA Level 3.  ASCA Level 5 Education Certified

Tanja has enjoyed swimming nearly all her life, literally spending summers during her youth in a pool. Quite by accident, she discovered her love for competitive swimming in high school and swam for her school's team in Cedar Rapids, IA. Tanja had a successful swimming career excelling in most sprint events. Starting at age 15, carrying through to today, Tanja has been a lifeguard, swim lessons instructor, and swim coach, loving every opportunity to teach her love of swimming and encouraging young swimmers. She graduated from the University of Iowa in 1995 and started a 25-year career with the University of Iowa, first with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinic (1995-2015) and then with UI Recreational Services and Iowa Flyers Swim Club (2011-2021).

As IFLY’s Head Age-Group Coach, Tanja developed swimmers that have competed at many levels ranging from local meets, LSC Championship Meets, Central Zones Championships, Central Zone Open Water Championships, NCSA  Age Group Championships, and Sectional Meets.  Many of IFLY’s swimmers who started out with Tanja have gone on to swim collegiately, as well as competed in meets ranging from international meets to the TRY Pro Series, Junior Nationals, NCSA Junior Nationals, and the Olympic Trials.  Despite the amazing successes of her age-group swimmers, Tanja’s love to encourage, teach, and push swimmers goes beyond the big meets. What drives her is coaching and mentoring confidence, grace, a sense of community, and life lessons that will carry swimmers far beyond the pool deck. 

Tanja enthusiastically joined the Katy Aquatics family in the Spring of 2021 bringing her love of the sport and helping swimmers grow beyond the pool deck. 

Tanja’s involvement with swimming goes beyond the club.  While in Iowa, she held several positions within Iowa Swimming, Inc. and continues that tradition with Gulf Swimming.  Those positions included:

  • Board of Directors-Safe Sport Chair-Gulf Swimming:  2022
  • Club Development Chair-GUlf Swimming:  2021-2022
  • Club Development Committee: 2021
  • Board of Directors-Age Group Vice-Chair:  2017 and 2019
  • Technical Planning Committee:  2017 and 2019
  • 2018 Iowa Swimming, Inc Swimposium Committee Chair:  2018
  • Nominating Committee Chair:  2016 and 2017

Additionally, Tanja was nominated  to coach for several regional and LSC sponsored events, as well as national level position within USA Swimming

  • Southern Zone Safe Sport Chiar 2023
  • Duel in the Pool Age Group Coach:  2022
  • Central Zones: 2016 and 2018
  • Multi-Cultural Zones: 2017
  • Mega Zones:  2016
  • Midwest All-Stars:  2014 and 2017

Tanja has 2 grown children, 3 grown step-children, and a 4-legged furbaby named Brewsky.  While she and her husband are empty-nesters, they manage to stay busy getting to know Katy, TX. 

Christian Schurr Assistant Coach

Christian began his coaching career with TXLA and has been a swimmer and coach in Texas since the early 90s. Coach Christian’s swimmers have achieved cuts at the TAGS, Sectional, Futures and Junior level.  Most importantly, Coach Christian wants those he coaches to improve while enjoying their swimming experience!

 

Prior to joining the coaching world, Coach Christian earned All American honors swimming for the University of Texas and represented Mexico at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.  While earning a degree in Kinesiology at UT, Christian competed in the World University Games in 2003 and the Pan American Games in 2007. As a professional swimmer, Coach Christian competed in both the 2012 and 2013 World Championships.  

Valerie Domingues Assistant Coach - ASCA 3

Valerie began her coaching career in San Antonio in 1990, for the Alamo Area Aquatics Association under the former Head Coach, George Block. In 1996 she moved to Houston and started coaching with Clayton Cagle for the Cy-Fair Swim Club for eight years. During this time Valerie coached the Cy-Falls and Cy-Creek High Schools. She then began with Sienna Plantation Aquatics before joining the Katy Aquatics Swim Team. Valerie has been coaching as an Assistant Coach with Katy Aquatics since 2010.

Valerie was raised in San Antonio, where she swam and played water polo for Tom C. Clark High School. Each year during her high school career she qualified for State. She then went on to be a collegiate swimmer for two years at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. Valerie was on the Women’s US Water Polo Nation Team for six years, and played in the 1984 Olympics.

Phil Sundahl Assistant Coach - ASCA 3

Coach Phil has been involved in all levels of coaching, including Head Coach, Head Age Group Coach, Masters Swim Coach, Team Developments and Private Instructor and the Aquatics Director at VillaSport (Woodlands). He most recently was a Lead Coach at SSAN since 2020 and previously Head Age Group Coach for ECS, where he led them to a TOP 100 Age Group Programs in the US (2020) as well as coached multiple TAGS Qualifiers/Champions, AG Champs Qualifiers/Champions.  Phil is excited to join Katy Aquatics and help us on our mission to continue to build the best swimmers in and out of the pool. 

Coach Phil is a Level 3 in both Masters and Age Group Swimming.

 
Rapolas Janonis Assistant Coach - ASCA 3

ASCA Level 3

Rap started his swim career early, at the age of 8 was a member of the Lithuanian National Youth Team.  He swam collegiately for Henderson State University and Santa Monica College.

 

After graduating with honors from California State University, Dominguez Hills, with a degree in Kinesiology, Rap received his master's degree in coaching from the Texas Women’s College. 

 

Prior to joining Katy Aquatics in 2022, Rap held several positions both internationally and locally, including Qatar, California, Florida, and Southern Texas.  His former clubs and positions included: Director and Head Age Group Coach of Space City Aquatics Team, Head Coach and Varsity Coach for St. John’s Country Day School, Head Coach at AKIS (British Secondary) in Qatar, Assistant Coach for the Los Angeles Swim Club, Head Age Group Coach/Assistant Senior Coach for the Royal Swim Team, and Head Swim Instructor for the Lenny Krayzelburg Swim Academy.

 

Rap has two kids, Trista and Troy, and lives in Katy with his wife, Sabrina.   

 

Bryan Haire Assistant Coach

Coach Bryan grew up in Missouri City where he swam competitively for the First Colony Swim Team and at Elkins High School. During and after high school he enjoyed working summers as a lifeguard and as an assistant swim coach for several teams in the SHRSL before attending the University of North Texas where he earned a BA in Economics and met his wife, Carrie. They have two children ages 13 and 9. He returned to coaching as an assistant coach for The First Colony Swim Team from 2010-2012 where he worked with a variety of age groups from 12 and unders to Masters. He then spent several summers coaching summer league again before taking a job as the Assistant Swim Coach at Austin High School in FBISD where he stayed for six years until he accepted the job as the Head Swim Coach at Morton Ranch High School where he also currently enjoys teaching senior AP Macroeconomics. He has been a part of Katy Aquatics since March 2020 and he is excited to continue helping kids to grow in the sport. 

Mike Smotherman Assistant Coach

This is Mike's fourth year with Katy Aquatics and his 42nd year of coaching the sport he dearly loves; which includes High School, USA Club, and Summer League.

 

Born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and earned a BA and M Ed. degrees from the University of Tennessee.

 

Mike swam for 13 years, at all levels; High School, Summer League, and AAU (yes, he's that old).  His favorite and best events were; 100 Fly, 100 Back, 200 IM, and 200 Free.  Mike was also captain of the football and soccer teams at Notre Dame High School, additionally lettering in baseball, basketball, and swimming.

 

Mike retired in May of 2019 from teaching High School after 26 years of teaching all the Social Studies courses, and the last 20 years with Fort Bend ISD.  Away from swimming, Mike likes to spend time working out, traveling, reading, and attending concerts, and sporting events. He is still involved with Masters Swimming and loves it.

 

Coach Mike is looking forward in coaching Age Group 1, Advanced Age Group, and Silver, and encouraging them to improve and have fun during the course of the swim season.

Elena Shekhareva Assistant Coach - ASCA 4 Education

ASCA Level 4-Education

Coach Elena was born in Russia and moved to Canada with her family in 2010. She traveled a lot with her family, including living in very unusual places like the Canadian Territory Nunavut in a hamlet located above the Artic Cycle. 

Despite a degree in business, she was looking for something new that would captivate her and discovered her love for the aquatic.  Over the past 10 years, Coach Elena hold many aquatics positions including: swim instructor, swim teacher, aqua fitness instructor, Junior Lifeguard Club instructor, summer league swimming coach, first aid and lifeguard training instructor, water polo team’s swimming coach, and of course a swimming coach. 

In January of 2022, Coach Elena, her husband, and son moved to the US, making Texas home.  In February 2022 she joined NEHA swim club as a swim coach, and in September 2022 she became part of the Katy Aquatics family. Elena is enthusiastic and passionate about advancing our Novices and Intros groups by applying her remarkable talent and focus on the technical aspects of swimming. She loves having the opportunity to teach, encourage, and support young swimmers as they work towards their goals. 

Her passion for aquatics drives her to continue to learn and is currently working on her ASCA Level 5 Education certification.  

Jeff Greenwood Assistant Coach

Coach Jeff is an ASCA level 5 Education Certified Coach. He born and raised in Utah. H graduated from Spanish Fork High School. While at Spanish Fork High School he played on multiple sports. It was during this time that I developed a passion for coaching, and knew that he wanted to get into coaching.

Coach Jeff started his swim coaching career at Orem Timpanogos Aquatics Club (OTAC). While at OTAC, he coached multiple Utah State Age Group and Senior State Meet qualifiers and Western Zone Meet qualifiers. He was also a member of the Utah Swimming strategic planning committee. He left OTAC to coach at Swim Houston Aquatic Center. While at SHAC he coached multiple swimmers that got their sectional cut times. 

Coach Jeff has a personal saying in life. It is “every day in every way I’m getting better and better.” As a coach his goal is to help he athletes to be better than they were the day before. The individual’s improvement is his primary objective. Coach Jeff emphasis is on competition with oneself. It is also to help them realize that the best moments in our lives are built around achieving everyday, and long-lasting, excellence.

Coach Jeff hobbies and interests are: water activities, golfing, hiking, camping, fly fishing, snowboarding and more than anything spending time with his wife is Stephanie and two children Jackson and Mary.

Board of Directors