Who We Are

Nurturing Water Therapies’ mission is to nurture the human body and spirit of those who are health challenged. Our services complement your existing therapies and treatment.

We help people of all ages with sensory, developmental, neurological, physical or other health challenges.

We know what it’s like to have loved ones who require life-long care and we are impassioned to help you.

Our Team


Sandy Karlek, Owner

Sandy Karlek, owner of Nurturing Water Therapies, has a BA in Communication/Recreation and is certified in Aquatic Therapy, Exercise Therapy and Ai Chi. She has over 25 years of experience in aquatics working with a diverse group of clients, across all ages, with various congenital or acquired health challenges. With a child of her own with special needs, she also has firsthand experience in behavioral, sensory and developmental challenges. Sandy’s innovative water-based therapy, water safety techniques, and exercise programs are individually created to best fit the needs of each individual. For more about how Sandy got started and more, please read her blog.

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Daniela (Dani) Garmendia

Daniela (Dani) Garmendia, ATRIC, BA is passionate, self-motivated, disciplined, enthusiastic, resilient, and goal oriented. Originally from Venezuela, Daniela swam for many years with the Venezuelan synchronized swimming National team, and currently is the assistant coach to the US National team. She graduated from Lindenwood University in 2017 with a Bachelors in Athletic Training. She has been a swim instructor and lifeguard for over 8 years and has worked with people of all ages and abilities. Her patience, experience and creative nature is demonstrated as she works with the wide range of clients in the pool.

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Jenny Petty

Jenny Petty has been teaching swim lesson for over 25 years.  She grew up a swimmer and loves the water and has a passion for teaching kids how to swim. Her patience and enthusiam while working with clients in incredible. She is motived to give people of ages and abilities a quality water experience, designed to meet their specific needs. Her specialty is working with children with special needs and more than anyting loves seeing when they accomplish a skill andthe light bulb comes on and they feel safe and confident in the water. Jenny is currently the Aquatic Coordinator for Tacoma Parks and Recreation and we are thrilled to have her on our team!


Carlie Vasquez

Carlie grew up loving water and swam competitively until high school. Now she swims for fun and coaches high school swimming. Within that, she has produced a few state titles and has had swimmers break state records. She is also a kinesiology student at Lake Washington Technical College and enjoys practicing her kines skills in and out of the water. She is excited to combine her two passions and work with clients both with adaptive swim lessons and aquatic therapy at Nurturing Water Therapies.

Paula Campbell

Paula Campbell

Paula began teaching swim lessons in 1978 at her local YMCA. Since then, she has instructed adaptive aquatics and instructed swimming to “8 and under” competitive swimmers, preschoolers, adults and most ages in between. Paula also managed an outdoor pool during the summer while in college and is a scuba diver. After receiving a B.S. in Finance, Paula worked as an accountant and auditor. She is married and her daughter works as a Pediatric Audiologist. “The privilege to work with students wherever they are in their swimming journey is my honor.”

Charlie Margolis

Charlie Margolis

Charlie Margolis has experience working with people of all ages and abilities, both in and out of the water. Along with his graduate degree in nutrition education, Charlie also has a teacher certification and has been an emergency department technician. Charlie has worked as a certified nursing assistant, carpenter, landscaper, histologist (anatomic pathology) and a jack-of-all trades guy. Through it all, Charlie had always enjoyed keeping his feet in the water. He was an infant and toddler water safety swim instructor; assisted with an MS water aerobics class; and continued his training and education in aquatic therapy and adaptive swim lessons. Charlie’s vast experience, along with his calm and gentle disposition makes him a wonderful asset to the NWT team.

Azita Zamani

Azita Zamani

Azita Zamani ATRIC, Masters in Physical Education and was a faculty member at a university from her home country for six years. She was working on her PhD in Physical Education with an emphasis on motor behavior and development and preparing her dissertation in Autism when she was given the opportunity to move with her two children to the United States in 2017. For the past two years, she taught swimming lessons at the YMCA while taking courses toward her Physical Therapy Assistant degree. Her dual languages are Farsi and English.


Leslie Lewis

Leslie Lewis’ is the Office Manager at Nurturing Water Therapies. Her education and initial career path was in public relations and marketing, but life and her beautiful autistic daughter took her in 2005 into special education. Since then, she has worked as a para-educator with children and young people with special needs. Leslie enjoys spending her free time with her family, in her garden, and out on the golf course.

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Ilya Sitsko

Ilya comes to Nurturing Water Therapies with strong credentials, having worked for years in Europe as an adaptive swim instructor of young people, many with autism and/or sensory disorganization. As an instructor and lifeguard, he values safety in the water environment and is highly trained in Emergency First Response. In addition, he demonstrates a strong knowledge of kinesiology as well as an affinity for working with young people with communication and behavior challenges. Ilya and his wife have recently relocated to this area from Belarus, where Ilya earned his bachelor’s degree in Anatomy, Physiology, Biomechanics and Psychology at the Belarusian State University of Physical Culture – MINSK. Welcome, Ilya!

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Kellie Masters

Grew up in a small city with an outdoor pool located on the Columbia River near the Pacific Ocean. Drowning Prevention was critical in this area and she began taking swim lessons and boating safety courses from an early age. Kellie began teaching swim lessons as a volunteer at age 12 and started lifeguarding at age 15. Her focus has been teaching parent child aquatics and adaptive swim programming through college while receiving her Bachelors in Recreation Management with a minor in Community Health Education. After college she spent time working in various areas of Recreation. Kellie is currently working towards my Masters in Recreation and Event Management focusing on Aquatics and Drowning Prevention Programs. Her long term goal is to work with organizations on Drowning Prevention Research and Programs and is a firm believer that as much fun as water can be, safety should be the biggest reason we learn to swim and continue to swim during our lives.

Leah Fisk

Leah Fisk

Leah Fisk grew up loving the water and has been swimming competitively since she was four. She then continued her swimming career at a Division I level at the University of Idaho and graduated from U of I with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science and Health as well as Psychology. Her career goal is to become an occupational therapist and she hopes to do meaningful work through this field. She has tremendous experience coaching and teaching lessons to people of all ages as well as experience working with people of all abilities. Previously, as an Outdoors For All summer camp counselor, she enjoyed sharing her love of the outdoors with others. “Being in the water has always felt like home to me and I could not be more excited to share my love for the water with others, ” says Leah.