Meet our Staff!

Office Staff


Janice Jaicks

 - Desert Swim School, Inc./FitnessFest

Janice Jaicks is the owner of Desert Swim School, and teaches lessons every Tuesday at Fitness Forum Health Club (Chandler Blvd. & Dobson Rd.). Janice began teaching swim lessons in 1985 at the Mesa YMCA and found that she had a real knack for it. She immediately sought additional training and received her Lifeguard Training Certification and WSI (Water Safety Instruction) Certification. She then started teaching children all over the East Valley in their own backyard pools. Janice became so busy with this endeavor that she started training and hiring other instructors to join her team. From that time forward, Desert Swim School  blossomed into the outstanding business it is today!

Janice adds:

“All kids are unique. I try to take their individual temperaments, including any fears or anxieties, and learn for that child how to best teach him/her to swim and be water-safe. As for my instructors, I choose my staff based on experience with all ages and abilities, as well as his/her ability to understand a child’s strengths, weaknesses and psyche – when to push, when to hold back and what step to take to achieve our goals is key! The final ingredient to an outstanding instructor is someone who genuinely cares about each and every child and has patience. I personally enjoy teaching the Parent/Tot class at Fitness Forum. It thrills me to see the little ones, even at 15 months old, going underwater and kicking their little legs to get through the hula-hoop. I also love to see that child a year later doing well enough to join the “big boy/girl” class!”

Gretchen Carter

- Desert Swim School, Inc./FitnessFest

Gretchen (Stalnaker) Carter, BA English (ASU), headed west to Arizona from West Virginia in late 2000 to attend Arizona State University. After completing her degree, Gretchen worked as an editor, trainer and instructional designer for several years before meeting Janice Jaicks and accepting the opportunity to work for this unique and exciting business. Gretchen currently serves as the office manager/coordinator for both Desert Swim School and FitnessFest.

Janice’s notes:

“Without Gretchen running the ship, the ship would have crashed and/or lost course more times than I’d like to mention. Everyone who runs an office, a business or a company needs someone who can “keep it together”, and Gretchen IS what keeps Desert Swim School and FitnessFest going and growing. Her humble bio does not indicate her assets, which include organization, dedication, intelligence, diligence, friendliness in person and on the phone, and being a fantastic editor and writer. When you have a small business, it is also important to have someone you can trust and someone who is loyal. I am lucky to have this in Gretchen. Together we look to continue to bring you excellent customer service with swim lessons and with our fitness conferences.”

Jessica Padilla

 - Swim Lesson Coordinator, Desert Swim School Inc.

Jessica Padilla, has been in aquatics for over 9 years working as a swim instructor, lifeguard and assistant pool manager. She is working on finishing a degree in Nutrition Dietetics at ASU downtown campus. She is so excited to be working with Desert Swim School as the new Swim Lesson Coordinator. In addition to working with the Waterworks team, Jessica is planning a wedding for late January. We look forward to blogging about her wedding come February!

Connie Lagerhausen

- Adult Swim Instructor

Connie has been an aquatic fitness professional and swim instructor since 1978 and is certified in all areas of aquatics. While living in the Midwest, she was an Aquatics Director for the YWCA in Lafayette, IN and also helped build the YMCA swimming program in Mattoon, IL.During her extensive career in the Valley, Connie has taught continuing education classes with Waterworks On Wheels, presented several workshops at our FitnessFest conferences, and developed an adult program for all abilities (novice to Ironman) that is still in use at Waterworks On Wheels today.Connie also teaches several water aerobics classes for Fitness Forum in Chandler. Along with more than 30 years’ experience teaching fitness and lessons, Connie has raised a family of athletes – placing her at the top of her game and making her a huge asset to our program.

Libby Dohm

- Swim Instructor

Elizabeth (Libby) Dohm is in her last semester for her Nutrition Management degree at the ASU Downtown Campus. She is very focused and goal-oriented. Libby grew up in Arizona and began swimming for the City of Chandler when she was five. She also swam with Rio Swim Club and was a varsity swimmer at McClintock High School. Butterfly is her favorite stroke. Swimming and teaching lessons are her passion and she loves to convey this passion to the kids. “I love to see the progress kids make,” she says. “To see a non-swimmer become comfortable swimming across the pool is very rewarding to me!”


 Shay Marsh

- Swim Instructor

 Shannon (Shay) Marsh is an ASU graduate with a degree in Exercise and Wellness.  Born and raised in Nebraska, Shay was involved in sports – including gymnastics, volleyball and diving – throughout high school. She taught swim lessons and summer swim camps in Nebraska and New Hampshire for several years before making the move to Arizona. Shay also has been an AFAA certified group exercise instructor for several years.     She loves to work out and loves Nebraska Husker’s football. Shay loves kids and enjoys teaching lessons for Desert Swim School and loves spending time with her family. In addition to being a wonderful part of our team, Shay currently teaches children’s tumbling classes in the East Valley.


Kailey Senior pic

Kailey Matheisen

- Swim Instructor

Kailey Mattheisen is a fun and energetic lady and has been teaching swimming lessons for about 6 years. She loves working with children and enjoys seeing them progress and improve their swimming techniques. She finds no greater joy in life than to help others succeed with their dreams. She has been swimming with the City of Chandler aquatics since she was in the Parent-Tot classes. She has since become a Water Safety Instructor, Lifeguard Instructor, and Manager to Lifeguards to expand her teaching horizon. She is entering her last year of study to receive her Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics degree from ASU. In her free time she likes to go dancing, read, write, and learn new things.

Barbara Williams

- Swim Instructor

Barbara (Barb) Williams found a love for the water at an young age. Growing up in Southern California with a backyard pool, she started swimming early on and never stopped! “I might have been a clown fish in another life,” says Barb. “I’d much rather be in the water than on dry land!” We’re sure the ‘clown fish’ part is because of her bubbly, carefree personality! Barb was introduced to competitive swimming at age seven when she realized that hardly anyone could catch her once she was in the water. She fell in love with breaststroke and diving, and over the years grew into a fabulous swim instructor. In addition to swim instruction, Barb has pursued careers in Architecture, Interior Design, Home Care Nursing and even as a Disc Jockey! After an accident in 2007, Barb learned the benefits of aqua therapy “Aqua therapy saved my life,” Barb says. “I love the water, I love to help people, and I look forward to seeing your child’s excitement as WE learn together through each lesson.”


 Haley Welch  

Haley Welch

-Swim Instructor

We would like to introduce Haley, our newest instructor at Desert Swim School. Haley taught swimming lessons for a few years before joining our team. She is working toward attending the University of Arizona’s College of Pharmacy, and in her spare time Haley enjoys reading and traveling. Her favorite food to eat is Kit Kats. Haley is very excited to be a part of the Desert Swim School team!


Christina Haneghan

- Swim Instructor

 Christina Haneghan, BA Kinesiology (Exercise Science), has been with Waterworks On Wheels for over 10 years. When she isn’t working for Desert Swim School, Christina works for a cardiac clinic in Phoenix, AZ. Some of Christina’s other interests include health and wellness and sports medicine. Christina spends her free time exercising, watching sports, listening to music, and hanging out with friends and family.


Recently, one of our clients shared a wonderful note with us about Christina:

“We wanted to drop a note about our children’s swim instructor, Christina. She is such a phenomenal swim instructor. She is very aware of the kid’s abilities and challenges each child to his own level even within the same class. She is also firm, yet gentle, and so very patient. Kids will often try to get out of doing things that are challenging (e.g. by whining) but Christina never falls for this; she has a very gentle but firm way of getting the kids to participate. The other parents also always comment on how patient and good she is. She always stays calm even with the frequent whining or disruption (the kids that scream through entire sessions or won’t sit still). I don’t know how Christina does it! We believe that Christina is truly an asset to your school. We really appreciate having her and our kids look forward to going to swim class each week mostly because of her.” -Viviana


Additional Staff

april headshot

April Proft

- Swim Instructor

April Proft is a sophomore studying Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Arizona. She has been swimming for her whole life. April began swimming at the City of Mesa Aquatics during the summers as a child.  She swam high school swim team all four years and was the captain of her swim team her senior year. She also swam on the Mesa Aquatics Club for three years. In addition to swimming, April also was an active participant in diving and gymnastics. Her other hobbies are hiking, camping, tumbling and music. Regarding teaching swim lessons, April says, “I love being around kids and sharing my passion for swimming with them. It is such a rewarding experience to watch the kids improve their swimming and have fun while doing it!”

Katherine Ellingsworth

- Swim Instructor

 Katherine (Katie) Ellingsworth is a current student at Mesa Community College transferring to Northern Arizona University Phoenix Campus for a degree in Business. Katie is very energetic, happy and driven. While not teaching swim lessons , Katie likes to spend her time reading, doing projects on her house, playing with her dog and relaxing. Katie grew up in California and began swimming for Irvine Nova Aquatics at a young age and from there moved on to being a part of the Petaluma Riptides. She also swam as a varsity swimmer at St. Vincent DePaul High school all four years. Butterfly is her favorite stroke, in addition to freestyle. Swimming and teaching lessons are something she gains a lot from, and enjoys the smiling faces from the kids when they achieve their goals.