Competitor Coach of the Month: Ron Aitken, Sandpipers of Nevada

Competitor Coach of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based coach who has risen above the competition. As with any item of recognition, Competitor Coach of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one coach whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a coach who was clearly in the limelight, or one whose work fell through the cracks a bit more among other stories. If your favorite coach wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.

At the U.S. Open Water National Championships this month, the Sandpipers of Nevada had a swimmer finish in the top 5 in every single event.

It was a banner showing for coach Ron Aitken‘s distance-based roster.

That included one national champion (Erica Sullivan in the 10K) and two junior national champions (Katie Grimes in the girls junior 5K and Ilya Kharun in the boys junior 5K). The Sandpipers went 1-2 in both junior 5Ks, with Grimes and Bella Sims sweeping the top two spots for girls and Kharun and Luke Ellis holding up atop the boys event.

In the senior 5K, Sullivan was third, Grimes fourth and Sims fifth among the women. On the men’s side, Dylan Gravley waws third. In the junior 7.5K, Paige Kuwata was second for the girls and Brice Barrieault third for the boys. Meanwhile in the meet’s premier event – the Olympic-distance 10K – Sullivan was first and Grimes fourth among the women and Gravley fifth for the men.

The Sandpipers are projected to have six swimmers on the U.S. roster for 2021 World Juniors. That would be Kuwata, Grimes and Sims for the girls and Gravley, Kharun and Ellis for the boys. With only 12 spots on the entire roster, the Sandpipers could make up half the World Juniors team in open water swimming.


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Jim Nickell
1 year ago

Great job Ron and Staff!

1 year ago

Katie Grimes also 18-U National Champion in the National 10K & 5K; Gravley 18-U National Champ in National 5K. Incredible to watch Sandpipers & Coach Aitken, well done!

1 year ago

Curious to see how Erica Sullivan performs in the women’s 1500 FR at the 2021 Olympic Team Trials.

Dan Solomon
1 year ago

Congrats Ron! Well deserved. Sandpipers swam fabulously at OWNats.

1 year ago

They’ve hosted open water meets at Lake Las Vegas, but as I am not on the team am unsure where they practice OW; maybe just extra yardage in the pool?

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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