WHO WE ARE
The Rutherford Swim Association is a nonprofit founded from the aspirations, determination and commitment of Mike Lazzara and Chris Dunn, both lifelong residents of Rutherford. The pair formed a lasting friendship as competitive swimmers for the Rutherford High School team in its undefeated 2008 season and both continued their swimming careers at the collegiate level.
Mike and Chris took over pool operations and programming of the Rutherford Community Aquatic Center in 2019 in partnership with the Rutherford Board of Education. The pair executed on their strategic plan to launch a series of swimming programs, teams and clubs as well as revitalize and modernize the facility.
Their dream is to give back to every swimmer the experiences that shaped their lifelong love of swimming and the support of an inclusive, welcoming community swimmers of any age and athletic ability can discover the competitor within.
Our Leadership Team
“We want to create a great aquatics program in the borough and in the state and be a guiding light for kids who want to swim to motivate and push them to be the best they can be.” – Mike Lazzara, Co-founder Rutherford Swim Association
Mike Lazzara is President and Chief Executive Officer of Rutherford Swim Association. He began building a blueprint for the nonprofit organization in 2018 in the lead up to a $53 million schools upgrade referendum that called for the demise of Rutherford’s only community pool. The referendum’s defeat crystallized Mike’s vision for a community organization that would revitalize the treasured amenity. For Mike, the fight was personal as the pool had been his refuge as a student athlete. A self-professed “pool nerd,” Mike followed in the footsteps of his older brother and sister to swim competitively at a young age and become a nationally ranked swimmer. He credits the sport with helping to shape his character and teach some of life’s greatest lessons, like perseverance, when he lost his father as a child.
Mike co-founded RSA with longtime friend and former teammate Chris Dunn. The two have been swimming together competitively since their days at the Rutherford Stingrays, the former summer swim team that dominated Bergen County in the 1990s.
Mike has worked with children his entire career. He’s a former English teacher for St. Nicholas School in Jersey City, New Jersey and Science Teacher for Corpus Christi School in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. He also worked as an assistant swim coach for Wyckoff Family YMCA and Montclair YMCA. He’s a certified USA swimming coach and has led practices and dry land groups for the national team.
Mike is a certified pool operator and Certified Lifeguard and Lifeguard Management Instructor. Mike received a Bachelor of Arts in Child Advocacy and Policy from Montclair State University and a Master of Arts in Education from Saint Peters University. He is a certified child advocate and has experience teaching children with behavioral and educational deficiencies.
“Life is about balance. Swimming is good practice” – Chris Dunn, Co-founder Rutherford Swim Association
Chris Dunn is Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Rutherford Swim Association (RSA). He was responsible for preparing RSA’s successful competitive bid securing the Rutherford Community Pool as its home for the foreseeable future.
For Chris, the contract awarded by the Rutherford Board of Education was a homecoming as he had spent many years honing his swimming skills as a student athlete at the 25-meter indoor aquatic center. A life-long swimmer and athlete, Chris believes that swimming is a critical life skill and there is no better place than the Rutherford pool to create a community aquatic environment. For him, RSA’s mission is to bring the love of swimming to every child who wants to learn. It’s that love for the sport that will help to successfully shape student athletes who want to compete in college or on a national platform.
Chris co-founded RSA with longtime friend Mike Lazzara. The two have been swimming together competitively since their days at the Rutherford Stingrays, the former summer swim team that dominated Bergen County in the 1990s.
In addition to RSA, Chris is a grant liaison for the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security. He was previously Assistant Age Group Coach of the Wyckoff YMCA Sharks, where he coordinated and co-managed daily swim practices and dryland sessions for the team’s Junior National Group.
Chris is a certified pool operator. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from The College of New Jersey. He will receive a Master of Business Administration from the same institution in 2021.
He started his professional career as Assistant Head Coach at Pines Lake Association, helping to oversee competitive swim training for 60 athletes ages 7 to 17.
At Rutherford Swim Association, every swimmer has an opportunity to discover their competitive spirit. We offer a range of programming that supports every level of aquatic acumen whether you aspire to be a member of our USA swimming team, participate in our special needs program and Special Olympics training, take private lessons or learn to swim for the first time. At RSA, we believe swimming in a supportive environment with proven training methods builds confidence and self-awareness. Just an importantly, the sport teaches life lessons that endure long beyond the pool experience.
We support our swimmers with a state-of-the-art-facility primed for competitive swimming that was recently rehabilitated back to where it rightly deserves to be to serve the Rutherford community once more.