Iowa City Eelsswim club

swim club

Our Coaching Staff

(click on each heading to read the Coach's bio)
Head Coach Don Spellman 
Office hours: Tuesdays 4-6 and Monday afternoon by appointment. 

Head Assistant Coach James Davis
Office hours: Thursdays  4-5 pm or afternoons by appointment 

Donald P. Spellman, Head Coach

Coach Spellman has been coaching with the Iowa City Eels since 1995. A highly respected and decorated coach, Coach Spellman was named “ISI Age-Group Coach of the Year” for 5 straight years, and has been named “Iowa Swimming Inc. (ISI) Senior Coach of the Year” 3 times, most recently in 2010. Not only is Coach Spellman the only coach in ISI history to win both awards in the same year, a feat he accomplished in 2005, he is the only coach to win Coach of the Year 9 times.

Coach Spellman has been named to the Iowa All-Star and Iowa Zone Team coaching staff for 10 years, 5 of them as Head Coach. During his tenure, ICE swimmers have consistently qualified to compete at State, Zone, Sectional, and National levels. He has developed over 21 swimmers who have graduated to swim in the NCAA as well as graduating an athlete to swim in the NAIA. Two of his former swimmers have qualified for the USA Swimming Olympic Trials.

An active and respected member of the coaching community, Coach Spellman is the current president of the Iowa Swimming Coaches Association. He has also served as the Technical Planning Director, the Senior Coach Representative, and is currently the Diversity and Outreach Chairman for the ISI Board of Directors. He has twice represented ISI at the United States Aquatic Sports Convention.

Coach Spellman began his swimming career in the Perry, IA summer swim league and joined the Des Moines Swim Federation while in High School. He was a member of both Perry High School and Dowling swim teams before he went on to swim for UNLV. His club swimming experience includes DMSF, Hawkeye Swim Club and the Iowa City Swim Club,

Coach Spellman is married to Emily A. Spellman, and is the father of twin daughters, Anna and Grace (current ICE swimmers). Coach Spellman's family tree includes Ezra Pound, the experimental modernist poet, and Roscoe Pound, the famed American legal scholar and former Dean of Harvard Law School. Away from the pool, Coach Spellman’s passions are mountain biking (single-track and downhill), downhill skiing, skateboarding, reducing his carbon footprint, poetry, collecting vintage Star Wars items, and listening to punk and modern rock.

James Davis, Head Assistant Coach

Coach James began swimming competitively 16 years ago. Having trained with both a Division I and a Division III NCAA team, 3 different club teams, and more than 20 different coaches, James provides an informed and well-rounded approach to training, the sport, and competition in general. As a swimmer, James' versatility showed. While he specialized in the 200 and 400 individual medleys, over the course of his career he improved considerably across a range of events. Overall, James reached Senior 'AAA' time standards in 8 events: both of the medleys, the 50, 100, and 200 meter freestyles, the 100 and 200 yard breaststrokes, and the 100 meter butterfly. James is also the Iowa City High School record holder in the 200 individual medley, Outside of the water, James enjoys weightlifting, downhill skiing, disc golf, basketball, wildlife documentaries, and international food.

Ben Towar

Benjamin Towar began swimming competitively at the age of seven for the LA84 Foundation in Los Angeles California. He joined Rattle Swim Club in 2008, where he trained and competed with the team for six years. At Rattler, Ben was part of the 6th fastest 13-14 year-old 4x100 Freestyle relay in the U.S. He also swam for the Granada Hills Charter High School varsity swim team for all four years. At his time at Granada, Ben won three consecutive MVP awards, maintained the North Valley League titles in the 100yd Freestyle and the 200yd Individual Medley, and captained his team of 50+ athletes his junior and senior years. In 2014, Ben moved to Iowa City to attend the University of Iowa where he is now pursuing a degree in Human Health and Physiology with a focus on Education. He briefly trained with the Iowa City Eels before becoming an assistant coach on the ICE coaching staff.

John Burkle

Coach John Burkle is  the former Head Coach of the Iowa City High School girls team and boys teams, and a former coach of the Southeast Jr. High swim programs. Coach Burkle has won Mississippi Valley Conference Coach of the Year honors 3 times and has twice been named District Coach of the year.  Coach Burkle is a graduate of West LIberty H.S. (IA), the University of Iowa, and received his Masters’ degree from Drake University. He teaches History/Social Studies at Iowa City High School. Coach Burkle coaches ICE swimmers during the long course season, mainly working with our Morays, Masters, and Cubes groups. He is an avid triathlete, Smashing Pumpkins fan, Chicago Bears fan, and comic book collector.

Samantha Hedrick, Assistant Coach

Samantha is a former swimmer with prior coaching experience. She will work alongside Coach James and Coach Don with the Frost and Cubes groups.

Naftalia Flatte, Assistant Coach

Naftalia is a former ICE distance swimmer and City High backstroke and 500 swimmer. She also works for the City of Iowa City teaching lessons and acting as Lifeguard. She is currently in her third year at Rochester University in upstate New York. When she is not traveling around the world, picking up new languages to speak, taking classes, and occasionally swimming Masters, she helps out with the Frost group when she is back in Iowa City.