United is fortunate to have this high calibre coaching team. Our coaches are highly skilled, professional, personable and committed to supporting our swimmers achieve their full potential in a safe and fun team environment.

Igor Polianski

Igor is our most senior and experienced coach. He leads and drives the Club’s success focussing on both individual performance and a positive team environment. Igor’s approach is based on excellent technique, good discipline, smart training and the enjoyment that comes with being part of the successful United team. Igor coaches our Seniors squad.

Igor has achieved at the very highest levels in swimming with his keys achievements including five World Records in 100m and 200m backstroke; Gold medallist in 200m backstroke at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games (as well as Bronze in 100m backstroke and 4x 100m Medley Relay); World Champion in 100m and 200m backstroke at the 1986 World Championships (as well as Bronze in 4x100m Medley Relay); Silver medallist in 200m backstroke at the 1987 European Championships; Gold medallist in 100m and 200m backstroke at the 1986 Goodwill games and Gold medallist in 100m and 200m backstroke at the 1985 European Championships.

With his wife Larissa, Igor established the Waterlions Swim School and is experienced coaching across the full swimming pathway from the Learn-to-Swim stage through to the high performance level.

Jamie Isemonger

Jamie is a senior coach with extensive experience in competitive swim coaching in New Zealand and Zimbabwe. He enjoys coaching young swimmers starting out in competitive swimming through to advanced age group swimmers. Jamie has a strong focus on professional development, and has successfully completed a number of teaching and coaching courses and certifications. Jamie has also worked as a fitness instructor in Durban in his native South Africa. Jamie coaches our Gold and SDT squads

Jamie was a competitive swimmer in his main stroke, breaststroke, as well as butterfly and IM. He has competed in several international meets winning a number of medals, including gold medals at the Youth Commonwealth Games. Jamie has enjoyed training under the South African national coach, Graham Hill, and training with Olympic Gold medallist, Chad le Clos.

Jamie believes that a swimmer-coach relationship should be considered an equal partnership. He encourages swimmers to work with him and not for him, aiming for swimmer and coach to be the best possible versions of themselves as swimmers, coaches and people. He puts emphasis and value on applying both the will to win, and the will to succeed in everything in life. He believes in “being internally motivated to succeed each and every day and to constantly strive to be the best possible version of yourself.”  

Max Polianski

Max has a strong track record as a competitive swimmer at United and beyond. He has now retired from swimming and become a passionate and enthusiastic United coach. As the youngest member of the Polianski family he has significant experience in ‘Learn-to-Swim’ programmes and is using his skills to ensure our younger swimmers are strong on technique. Max is the Lead Coach for our junior squads (Juniors, Bronze, Silver and JDT) and coaches our JDT and Silver squads.

Max completed a Bachelor’s Degree in International Affairs at Florida State University in the USA in 2020, where he was on the college swimming team for four years. During this time Max was one of the team’s top performers and achieved the “All American Honors” in both the pool and classroom. Prior to being a student-athlete at Florida State, Max represented United from 2008-2018 and has always been committed and passionate about the Club. He has a long list of achievements in the pool and still holds New Zealand and Auckland Age Group records, but one of his fondest memories is being part of the United team that won the overall Top Club at the NZ Short Course Champs in 2015.

Max has been coached and mentored by world-class coaches throughout his career. His goal is to combine all the best qualities from these coaches, and to pass that knowledge onto the next generation of swimmers. He strives to provide swimmers with simple but effective training, goal setting in and out of the water, organisational skills, discipline to establish good habits, a strong foundation in the basics, and a passion for teamwork. He believes hard work yields success and looks forward to challenge in his life. “I wish to be infectious in my positive approach and hope to motivate all the swimmers that I come across.”

Marco Smeets

Marco has been surrounded by the competitive swimming environment since he started racing at just 6 years old. He was a swimmer with United for over 10 years but has recently retired from the Seniors squad to focus on his coaching. Marco has achieved 11 Auckland swim records as well as representing New Zealand at an international meet. Marco has been coaching with both Waterlions Swim School and United Swimming Club since 2018, working with swimmers between the ages of 4 and 15 years. Marco coaches the Bronze and Juniors squads.

Marco is a part-time coach at United and when not at the pool, he is likely be at the University of Auckland where he is studying towards a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce and Property. Marco’s coaching philosophy is centred around a strong belief that learning good skills and technique are crucial for young swimmers, as it sets up the base of their future swimming career. His goal is “To create a positive and competitive environment in which swimmers learn good habits and life skills; applying goal setting and determination to reach these goals”.

Emily Whitehead

Emily swam competitively from 12 years old, retiring to move to Dunedin and complete her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Philosophy. She is currently working towards her Masters in Psychotherapy intending to use the associated skills and qualification to develop a mental health programme for kiwi athletes. She specialised in breaststroke and moved to United to swim with Larissa and Igor, and under their guidance achieved National titles and medals.

Emily is a part-time coach with United, primarily helping out with our Junior squads (Juniors, Bronze, JDT, and Silver), and is focused on perfecting technique in our young breaststrokers. She can also be seen around the pool taking learn-to-swim classes at WaterLions with swimmers aged 4 and up. Emily is grateful for the world-class tutelage she has received from her past coaches, and the coaching team around her, and hopes to pass on to our swimmers the love for the sport she has had since day 1.

Simone Lusby

Simone grew up in Auckland and has been a competitive swimmer and a passionate supporter of United Swimming Club since she was 10 years old. A backstroker all her life, she has held three Auckland Age Group Records for backstroke events, as well as numerous United Records and National Age Group titles and medals. Simone has represented New Zealand at the Australian Age Group State Championships. Throughout her swimming career Simone has benefitted from being coached by both Igor and Larissa Polianski, and they have been hugely influential in her coaching development. Simone is a part-time coach at United supporting coaching across Junior Development and Training, Bronze and Gold squads.

Simone is studying on a scholarship at Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA – a Big Ten university where she is a member of the swimming and diving team. Expected to graduate in May 2022, she is studying Human Resource Management and Business Administration.