The coaching and teaching team

We are proud to employ a completely professional coaching staff at Mid Sussex Marlins. Our staff are fully qualified with Swim England coaching and teaching certification to ensure we provide best practice, engaging sessions as well as safe effective teaching and coaching on a daily basis.

Charlie Wood – Head Coach 

Charlie joined the Coaching Team in early 2017, having previously been a swimmer in the clubs Performance 1 squad. Charlie has coached swimmers to county records and county relay records as well as being assistant coach early in his coaching career to a number of national medallists. Charlie was appointed Head Coach of our club in November 2022.

Charlie has been the Lead Performance Coach and directly coached and currently leads our Performance 1 squad, Competitive 1 squads as well as working with a number of our other squads on the club pathway. Charlie is a qualified Level 2 coach and is currently working towards his Level 3 Coaching qualification.

Charlie was also a swimmer at Mid Sussex Marlins and during his swimming career has held county records, and been part of the Sussex league winning teams (including the Club’s first Sussex league win in 2016) as well as swimming to national level.



Ross Hunter Assistant Head Coach

Ross has been coaching at Ardingly where he had 6 National qualifiers, 1 swimmer part of the National Youth Development Pathway and 1 swimmer selected to represent Great Britain at the FINA World Cup in Berlin. The squad also had the most teams qualify for ESSA relays in their history. Before that Ross coached at  Sevenoaks and Tonbridge, he also coached his sister (S8 classification) to 8 Scottish records.

He grew up swimming, originally in Kent and then later in Glasgow for East Kilbride. Ross is interested in most sports, particularly rugby and snowboarding.  He is also half French and half Scottish!




Rachael Bowen (Picture and Information to follow) Performance 2 and Competitive 2

Rachael currently coaches our Performance 2 and Competitive 2 squads.


Ernesto Paniccia – Competitive 3

Ernesto joined the Club in September 2015 as part of our Academy teaching team. Since that time, he has achieved his Level 2 Swimming Coach and Teacher. His extensive knowledge of teaching and coaching competitive swimming has made him an invaluable member of the teaching and coaching staff.

He is the current Lead Competitive 3 Coach, applying his skills and knowledge to progress our young talented swimmers within the Athlete Development Support Pathway towards achieving county qualifying times.


Jonathan Vernon – Pre-Competitive 1 

Jonathan currently coaches our Pre-Competitive 1 squad

Jonathan has taught and coached swimming since 2002, first with Lewes SC, then Eastbourne College, before joining ‘Marlins’ in 2008. There have been a few spells away, but he has worked with teaching, para, masters, and all coaching squads during this time.  He is a Level 2 teacher and coach. 

Jonathan sees PC1 (like PC2) as a Swim England ‘Learning to Train’ squad where swimmers transition from teaching to squad training. This means developing  all strokes and skills, enjoying regular challenges, getting used to being part of a team, training hard, and taking personal responsibility as a young athlete.


Pre-Competitive 2 


Stuart Marshall – Lead Development 1,2,3 Coach (Picture and Information to follow)



Pauline Draper  – Disability swimming / Para swimming 

As a paediatric physiotherapist at Chailey Heritage and a former swimming teacher with Burgess Hill & District SC, I was able to combine the experiences gained in both to help set up the Dolphins Squad back in September 2000.

The motivation came from wanting to help those with disabilities reach their full potential in swimming, and it has been wonderful to see how the swimmers have developed over the years. One or two from the squad have reached National level but there have been others who have achieved just as much by learning to swim independently, having previously needed support from people or flotation aids. I have now retired from my role at Chailey but I shall continue to be involved with Dolphins for as long as I can.