Coaches and Directors

Coaches and Directors

Coaching Staff
Emily Paradis Head Coach

I grew up in Freeport Illinois and always knew I wanted to be a swimmer. After watching my 3 older sisters and HS coach father involved in swimming, it was inevitable. After having success as an age-group and HS swimmer and falling in love with the sport for so many reasons, I went on to swim for UW-Madison. During my time with the Badgers I was All-Big Ten Selection, NCAA All-American, Big Ten champion, school record holder, and team captain. I was also an Olympic Trials qualifier in both breaststroke and IM events in 2000 and 2004.

I decided to get back into swimming, this time as a coach, after the birth of my oldest daughter in 2007. I felt this was an amazing opportunity to give back to the sport that was such a huge part of my life. I started coaching for DeForest Aquatic Club as an assistant coach, working with all ages from 2007-2012. Our Family moved to New Glarus in 2012, and I took over the Head coaching job at the Green County YMCA. I was the head coach for GCY from 2012-2020. While with GCY I was voted age-group coach of the year in 2015. I was able to grow so much as a coach in my time at the YMCA. I enjoyed developing the program into a team that not only fostered the growth of beginner swimmers, but also placed in the top ten at both USA and YMCA State meets.

In my years of coaching I have worked with swimmers of all ages and abilities—from teaching beginner swimmers all 4 strokes to state champions and National qualifiers-- I love it all! I believe that swimming is truly a unique sport and you can get so much from every aspect of it. Coaching to me is about building lasting memories and relationships for swimmers, while helping each individual to reach their full potential. To me, watching a swimmer learn to love the sport as much as I do, is the biggest reward!

On a personal note, I am a mother of 4 children (3 daughters and 1 son). My husband Todd is an elementary principal, and we have 2 giant fluffy cats! My girls are involved in swimming, soccer and basketball and keep us very busy! When we get the chance, we love spending any of our extra time in Door County on Lake Michigan!

Breanna Ruffolo Assistant Coach

I grew up in Manitowoc, WI and first started swim team at the YMCA when I was 11. During High School I was a volunteer coach for the Middle School teams in my area. After High School I attended UW-Manitowoc for one year, and then University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point and swam for their team for three years. At UWSP I also helped coach their annual swim camp over the summer! I graduated from UWSP in December 2020 with a Bachelor's degree in Business Marketing.  I moved to Madison in May of 2021, and then started coaching for VAST in the Fall of 2021! 

 

Outside of the pool I work as a Marketing Project Coordinator for Zimbrick Inc. I love spending lots of time outdoors, I especially enjoy going fishing and hiking! Other than that, I love to read and watch any and all Wisconsin sports!

Caleb Meixner Assistant Coach

I grew up in Sun Prairie, WI and started off swimming for Sun Prairie Piranhas before switching to DFAC. I have been swimming and aquatics area my whole life since competing on a club team, teaching swim lessons, and coaching. Once I graduated high school I attended UW-Stevens Point where I continued to compete. I graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelors degree in Mathematics. I moved back into the Madison area and have been coaching with VAST since September 2021.

 

When I’m not at the pool you will find me still at a pool because I am a Swim Instructor for the Verona Area School District during the school year. If you’re lucky, you will also find me at various concerts throughout the year or soaking up the sun at a beach or lake. Other than swimming I enjoy cheering on Wisconsin for sporting events as well.

Maci Parent Assistant Coach

I grew up in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, and started swim lessons with the Mount Horeb Gators summer swim team at the age of 6. I continued with the team for 12 years, mentoring and eventually becoming a coach. Throughout my time swimming on the Gators, I also did club swimming with the Verona Aquatic Club and the YMCA of Dane County. 

Along with my time on swim teams, I was also a swim instructor for the Madison School & Community Recreation for 4 years, eventually becoming a site director at the James Madison Memorial High School. Throughout my time doing lessons and instructing in Madison, I was also a lifeguard at numerous pools around the Madison area. 

Once in high school, I was given the opportunity to join the Mount Horeb Verona High School girls swim team where my love for swimming continued. Swimming has given me so many opportunities and relationships I’m so grateful for.

On a personal level, I’m also a dog mom of a Cockapoo named Reggi and love spending time with family and friends at my family’s lake house in Nekoosa, WI! I’m so excited to continue my swimming experience and journey with VAST and grow with the team! 

Tim Liebhold Assistant Coach

I grew up in Chapel Hill, NC and learned how to swim when I was very young. I didn't start swimming competitively until we joined a summer pool and all my friends had to stop playing and go to practice.  So when I was 9 I swam summer league, and my coach encouraged me to join the club team right after the first summer.  I was hooked at that point and knew swimming was the sport for me.  I always dreamed of making the Olympics and even though I was never a standout as an age group swimmer worked very hard and kept improving.  When college came around I decided that UW-Madison was the best fit athletically and academically.  

As a Badger I continued to improve, becoming the school record holder in the 400IM.  I was a 4 time All-American, 3 Time National Team Member, 200IM National Champion in 2005, and 2x Olympic Trials Finalist in the 200 IM (4th in 2008, 8th in 2004). I also was a member of the World University Games team  and Short Course World Championships team in the 200 IM and 4x200 Free relay.  I retired from the sport in 2008.

Throughout my college and post-college career I ran clinics, taught lessons and coached.  I'm excited to get back on deck with VAST and give back to the sport that gave so much to me.

Personally, I am a Structural Engineer, and my wife Kaitlin and I have 2 boys - one of whom is currently swimming for VAST.  Our family loves spending as much time outdoors as we can - we ski, camp, swim and hike as much as possible

Mike Hruska Assistant Coach
 
Mike grew up swimming for the Verona Aquatic Club and the Verona Area High School swim team.  Representing Verona, he won multiple individual state titles and was part of the team that won the 2000 Wisconsin State division 2 men's championship.  He went on to swim for the UW-Madison Badgers and the UW-LaCrosse Eagles.  
 
During college and after graduating he found enjoyment being at the pool helping swimmers of all ages and abilities: teaching swim lessons, coaching masters/triathletes, coaching all-city and tri-county summer teams, and coaching the Verona Area/Mount Horeb high school team.  He started his club coaching career as the head age group coach for the Verona Aquatic Club, 2008-2011.  He then founded and was the head coach for the MoHo Gators swim team, 2012-2015.  Between 2015-2019, as the head competitive coach, he led the Madison Aquatic Club 12 & unders to multiple Wisconsin state championship team titles.  From 2019 to 2022 he ran his own swim instruction business, Mike Hruska Swim. He has served on the Wisconsin Swimming board of directors, is an American Swimming Coaches Association age group level 4 coach, and has been nominated for the Wisconsin Swimming age group coach of the year award numerous times.  He is excited to join the VAST staff in 2023!
 
When not at the pool Mike can be found with his wife, Melissa, and their two children Adie (6) and Hayes (3) camping, hiking, swimming, and biking or working at UW Credit Union.
Emma Neumann Assistant Coach

My name is Emma Neumann and I’m so excited to be coaching VAST again! I grew up in Fitchburg, WI and began swimming competitively at age 8. I got my start swimming for the Seminole Sharks, one of the All-City League summer teams. I immediately fell in love with the sport and never looked back. I began club swimming at age 9 and swam for various clubs around the area, but settled in with BAC at age 11. During the last 2 months of my senior year, I made the switch to swim for VAST to finish out my USA club career. I attended Verona for high school and swam all 4 years and qualified for WIAA State my senior year. 

 

After my senior year of high school, I began coaching for VAST and have been doing so since the summer of 2021.  I am also a coach for the Seminole Swim and Dive team where I have been coaching the 9-10 age group for the past two years. Since I attend UW-Madison, I have only coached during the summer and breaks. This year I’ll be helping out a few days a week year round and couldn’t be more excited! 

 

This fall, I’ll be a junior at UW-Madison where I am studying Community and Nonprofit Leadership with certificates in Health Policy, Athletic Healthcare and Gender and Women's Studies. Outside of classes, I spend most of my time swimming on campus for UW’s club team, Swim Club UW! 

Board of Directors
Ryan Geier President
Liz Slager Vice President & Secretary
Michelle Konarske Treasurer
Mylinda Heil Meet Director