Garry NelsonCourtney Kniss

Garry grew up in IL and graduated from Eastern IL University with a B.S. degree in Physical Education and a minor in Psychology. During the summer months Garry served as the Aquatic Director at the Towering Pines Boys camp in Eagle River Wisconsin. After college Garry got his first coaching job at the Hall of Fame pool in Ft. Lauderdale FL, where Former Olympic Coach Jack Nelson hired Garry to be his Head Age Group Coach and Head Instructor for the Jack Nelson Swim School. During his time at FLST Garry learned the skills required to teach children of all ages how to swim. Garry continued his career serving as Head Coach for various schools, as well as started his own club team called the Broward Seahawks. During that time Garry he also became one of the first Program Directors for the new learn-to-swim program called Swim America. Garry went on to coach his teams to 42 national champions, 7 national records, 232 all Americans and several top 2 team finishes. Garry was also honored as National Male Coach of the Year 1995 and 1997. Garry was also voted into the BCC Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.

After all his success, Garry retired from full-time teaching and coaching in 2011. After a brief stint in Asheville, North Carolina, he missed the water and moved to St. Petersburg. "I have always wanted to stay involved in swimming and working for Mermaid Swim School to teach lessons to the children of this area is a great opportunity. I believe all parents should consider getting their children lessons, with the amount of water in our area it is a must. I look forward to teaching your children in a fun and safe way."


Riley WeberRiley Weber

Riley is a biology major at Eckerd College. She plans to be a clinical nutritionist when she gets out of school. She is originally from northern Virginia. She has been a lifeguard for five years, and has managed a pool for two years. She has had her CPR/First Aid certification, and lifeguard certification for five years from the American Red Cross. She also has her pool operators certification, and received her open water scuba diving certification last year. Her passions include teaching swim lessons, and horse riding lessons. In her free time, she enjoys riding horses, hiking, and reading a good book. She also volunteers at SMART barn in Bradenton, Florida where she helps teach kids with disabilities how to ride horses."


Max HagueMax Hague

Max moved to St. Petersburg this past July after graduating from Westminster College. He received a degree in Media Arts and Film and was a member of the varsity men’s swimming and diving team. In his four years of swimming his team was conference champions for three of them. He was two-time conference champion, all conference first team, all conference honorable mention, Arena Grad Prix qualifier, and pool record holder. Max was captain of the team his senior year where they finished first in conference and 17th in the nation overall for division three. Prior to college athletics, Max swam and played water polo in high school. He started lifeguarding when he was 15 and continued to do so throughout high school and undergrad. He began coaching at 17 for the pool he worked at and also started giving individual swim lessons. During his undergrad, the swimming program would give group swim lessons to the community. Max would participate in those and would also give some individual swim lessons. He continues to love the sport of swimming and wishes to teach kids the importance of water safety.


Wendy HessingerWendy Hessinger

During Wendy's early years growing up in Pennsylvania she was very active, whether it was skiing or doing other winter activities. Later, she moved to South Florida to attend Nova University; this was when she fell in love with Florida and fitness. One of her required classes was Physical Education; she chose yoga. Her yoga instructor Mark Roberts amazed her; his inspiration instilled in her a lifelong passion for yoga. Yoga is a lifelong journey, and she loves knowing that she can learn something new every single day! She loves and appreciate learning in general. Wendy has a passion for teaching swimming, yoga, and is also a personal trainer. Wendy has a positive and upbeat attitude that children immediately respond to! Wendy is a great instructor who will be able to push your child to their full potential as a swimmer. She looks forward to teaching your child the swimming skills they need to be a safe and successful swimmer for life!


Katelyn MaherKatelyn Maher

Katelyn Maher, born and raised on Long Island, New York, is a rising senior at Eckerd College and is currently studying Graphic Design. Katelyn plans to combine her passion for art and helping others to become a Creative Art therapist for children. She has plenty of experience in the water since becoming a Lifeguard & Swim Instructor 3 years ago. She gives both group and private lessons, and has a passion for teaching children with disabilities. She uses her bubbly personality in her teaching style by using a fun, interactive approach to all lessons. If Katelyn isn't working, then you can find her surfing at the beach, drawing in her sketch book, or volunteering at Sallie House, a partner with Salvation Army. You know what they say, the best friends are the ones you make underwater!