YMCA of Greater Des Moines Marlin Swim Team Coaching, Event, and Support Staff

Emma Ashman
Director of Competitive Swimming, Head Coach: Travel and Travel Team Prep

Emma Ashman is the Director of Competitive Swimming for the Des Moines YMCA Marlins and Head Coach of Travel Team and Travel Team Prep. During her time with the Marlins, they have achieved 43 Team Records, 11 New State Records for IASI, 42 Marlins committed to DI, DII, DIII Universities, and  10 team championships won.

Coach Ashman strives to make the Marlins the best in the pool and the best out of the pool when measured by their character. Her motto is that it takes a village; the Marlins truly have the greatest staff of support.

Before coaching the DSMY Marlins, Ashman coached four NCAA qualifiers at the University of Iowa. She helped lead the U of Iowa to a record-breaking season in 2019-20- setting 12 program records (seven women’s, five men’s, two of her own) and 11 Hawkeyes earned Big Ten Conference weekly recognition. Iowa had success at the Big Ten Championships. As an athlete at Iowa, 2013-2017, Sougstad was a three-time NCAA qualifier and a two-time All-American in 2016 and 2017. She earned first-team All-America honors in 2017 after placing sixth in the nation in the 100 breaststroke with a school-record time of 58.78 — the fifth-fastest time in Big Ten history. The time propelled her to compete in the 2016 Olympic Trials. Sougstad still holds individual school records in seven events — 100 breast (58.76), 200 breast (2:10.47), and 200 IM (1:57.55) and as part of the 200-free (1:30.96), 400-free (3:18.83), 200-medley (1:38.99), and 400 medley (3:36.71) relays.

Ashman joined staff at Miami of Ohio as an assistant coach during the 2017-18 season and was communications director for the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA), where she managed the annual coaching convention, featuring more than 300 coaches from 2017-2020.

Ashman has a Master's Degree in Counseling and Psychology with an emphasis in athletic leadership and positive psychology from Mizzou.

She was a CSCAA Scholar All-American, a three-time Academic All-Big Ten, and Dean’s List honoree during her Iowa career. She graduated from the University of Iowa in 2017 with a degree in elementary education. 

When not leading athletes in and out of the pool, Coach Emma loves to bake, hike, run, bike, and spend time with her husband, Taylor, friends and family. She is thankful for the swimming community and loves giving back to the sport that gave her so much.

Bob Bredice

Practice Site Head Coach: Wellmark

Coach Bob Bredice has been with the YMCA of Greater Des Moines since 2014 and is the Head Coach for the Ankeny/Wellmark practice site. Prior to coaching at the YMCA, Bob was a graduate assistant coach with Iowa State University. Bob received his BA in Journalism/Mass Communication and Education Certification from ISU. 

Coach Bob is a four-year letter winner as a member of the Iowa State Men’s Swimming and Diving Team and a member of the 1995 Big 8 Championship Team. Back in high school, Coach Bob received All-American Honorable Mention in the 50 Free- which although he considered it his best event, the 100 breast was his favorite!

Coach Bob believes that coaching has the ability to affect the lives of children in a positive manner. Coach Bob on coaching: “Sport teaches lessons in teamwork, integrity, dedication, sacrifice and humility and I believe that delivering those lessons is tantamount to helping our swimmers achieve athletic success. My goal is to develop young people who enjoy swimming and are healthy in mind, spirit and body.”

In his time away from the pool he enjoys spending time with his wife Susin and their children: Joe, Jaycin (JJ), Sydney, Chloe, Maia, Alanna  as well as a couple new grandchildren. He also enjoys his pets; Mayhem (black cat), and Chaos and Havok (Siberian Huskies). In his spare time, you can find Coach Bob enjoying one of his favorite hobbies; reading, basketball and video games.

Karyl Palmer

Practice Site Head Coach: Waukee

Karyl Palmer  is the head coach at the Waukee practice site. Coach Karyl came late to competitive swimming, starting in middle school.  She continued swimming in high school for Valley High School in West Des Moines, Iowa. While at Valley she, with 5 of her teammates, did not lose a meet until they were juniors, winning State Championships her freshman and sophomore years.  She continued swimming at Winona State University where she amassed 7 school records and voted MVP her freshman year.

Coach Karyl’s coaching career started with the Waukee Rays in October 2007 as an assistant becoming the practice site head coach soon after. A multiple time coach for the Midwest All Stars, Coach Karyl will head that squad in 2023. Never one to sit still, she has traveled to Minneapolis and Elkhart, Indiana to coach for Team Iowa Long Course Zones.  She coached with Coach Bob in Greensboro, North Carolina this past April for YMCA Nationals.  

Prior to beginning her coaching career, Karyl graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelors of Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing. After working in the corporate world of The Limited  and Xerox, Karyl started a family and settled in central Iowa. Currently, in addition to her coaching duties, she is  a substitute teacher in the Dallas Center-Grimes school district.  She lives in Dallas Center with her husband Gayle, and has 2 sons, Jared and Bryce. 

In her spare time she can be found on her bike (in the summer), reading, baking or cooking.  

Her favorite part of coaching is nurturing a love of swimming in her athletes.  She believes in the relationships, the hard work, and the joy of the competition teach lifelong skills that will make for better individuals.  She loves seeing her athletes master a new skill, and enjoys teaching at all levels.  The progress the swimmers make is a great motivator.  She has a great staff of assistant coaches in Waukee and treasures the time spent on deck with her coaches and swimmers.  Her goal for each swimmer-that they love the sport forever.

Damon Garrison
Practice Site Head Coach: Walnut Creek

Coach Damon is very excited to begin coaching with the Marlins! He brings the experience of over 30 years of coaching swimmers at all levels of the sport from the developmental swimmer to the Olympic Trial Swimmer. He believes in developing the complete swimmer with HARD WORK in and out of the pool. Taking pride in many of his swimmers going on to academic honors including over 30 swimmers becoming their High School's Valedictorian and 100’s of his athletes swimming in college.

In the pool Damon's swimmers have excelled as well with accomplishments including State/LSC Championships, High School State Championships, High School All-Americans, NCAA All-Americans, NCAA Champions and Record holders, Zone Championships, National Age Group rankings (including two swimmers ranked #1), Sectional Champions, JR. National Finalists, National Qualifiers, and Olympic Trial Qualifiers.

A lifetime in the sport has taught him so many of the lessons swimming brings to the athlete.  But most of all he believes in the thing he tells his swimmers before they race, have fun!

Coach Damon has a passion for reading, traveling, and taking in the occasional concert.  He has proudly seen over 25 members of the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame live. He resides in Des Moines with his dog Mika who he is proud to show off photos of.

Masters Swimming Head Coach
James "Butch" Lawson

Butch was late to start as a swimmer, yet got an early start as a swim coach. First coached in 1974 with his club/high school coach, Mike McWiliams, as we put on clinics around southeast Iowa. After several years away from being deeply involved in the sport, he started coaching part time in the fall of 1988. He was the head coach 3 years later and filled that role for 13 years. During that time, DMSF won many team state championships, dozens of national Top-16 age-group times, as well as Junior National champions, Senior National “Rookie of the Meet”, and top-12 world rankings. He was assistant coach for the victorious North squad at the 1992 US Olympic Festival. He was the first ASCA Level 5 coach in the state of Iowa. He was also a two-term President of the Iowa Swim Coaches Association (ISCA).

His goal with the Masters program is to provide a community for adult swimmers, regardless of their history in the sport, level of ability, and performance objectives. There is always a home for an adult who wants to improve their swimming ability.

Coach Butch would like to acknowledge the positive impact swimming has given to him. He grateful to the many friends from around the globe he has met through the swimming community- including his wife! Coach Butch believes there is no better activity for your physical, mental, and emotional fitness.

In his time away from the pool, Coach Butch enjoys hiking, reading, golf, and music. Along with his wife, Butch enjoys travel to attend live music events.

John Van Meter

Aquatic Events Director

John discovered his passion for the sport of swimming during his time as a parent volunteer in 2006 when his kids started swim team. Eventually, these volunteer positions turned into serving as a swim club board member, swim official, and meet director in 2009.  John’s extensive experience on the pool deck led him to become the meet director for the Grinnell College Swimming & Diving program. In 2018, John became the Wellmark YMCA Aquatic Events Director for the newly formed DSMY Marlins.  Some of his proudest moments have been hosting major national meets in Des Moines, also seeing new and upcoming swimmers qualify for the Olympic Trials.

The Van Meter family is still actively involved in swimming.  John is a USA Swimming certified Deck/Admin Referee and YMCA Level II Official.  His daughter Reagan swam on the SE Polk swim team and now focuses her time on raising the next Van Meter swimmer, John's grandson, August who is 6. John's son Jack swam at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA. After his graduation, Jack served as the Head Coach for the Walnut Creek practice site of the DSMY Marlins prior to moving to the Boston area to become the Assistant Head Coach for the North Shore YMCA Sharks. 

In his free time John enjoys riding his bike, eating tacos with his grandson, and spending time with his significant other Amber and their dog Max.

Crystal Brugman
Administrative Assistant for Swim Teams and Aquatic Events

Crystal Brugman is the Administrative Assistant for Swim Teams and Aquatic Events for the DSMY Marlins. She wears many hats including those of team registrar, billing specialist, event coordinator, concessions stand manager, and font supervisor.

An Ames native, Crystal was first introduced to the sport of swimming during middle school and timed her first meet in eighth grade. Naturally, a lifetime love of doing work next to swimming pools developed. 
Admin Crystal joined her first YMCA staff in Salisbury, North Carolina sometime in the late ‘00s. Now on her fourth YMCA group, she enjoys bringing her brand of organization and dad-joke sense of humor to the YMCA of Greater Des Moines.

As she has two very active girl children, she has no free time. She and her husband are too busy going to violin lessons, swim meets, softball tournaments, and soccer games to have free time or a clean house.