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 30 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.

Daniela - Dani

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.

Jenny 2019

Jenny Petty

Jenny Petty has been teaching swim lesson for over 30 years.  She grew up a swimmer and loves the water and has a passion for teaching kids how to swim. Her patience and enthusiasm 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 anything loves seeing when they accomplish a skill and the light bulb comes on and they feel safe and confident in the water. Jenny is currently the Program Coordinator for Nurturing Water Therapies and we are thrilled to have her on our team!


Tammy Chiang

Tammy Chiang has extensive knowledge in swim skills and technique as she has been teaching swimming lessons since 2005. With a focus in water safety, she became a lifeguard instructor in 2009 with the goal of helping and training others to work in the field of aquatics. Countless times throughout her career she has worked with kids with special needs. The more she worked with them, the more she realized what a huge need there was for staff training in aquatic facilities, both for herself and others, to serve this community better. Tammy was excited to have specific training and experience through Nurturing Water Therapies and looks forward to learning more each day how to communicate and relate better with our kids.


Shauna Monahan

Shauna Monahan is passionate about the special needs community. She is currently a certified behavior technician and has led social groups and coached a Special Olympics swim coach. Shauna swam competitively since she was young and is excited to combine her passions, both her swimming and her support for kids with special needs. She is currently a student at UW and is studying for acceptance into an Occupational Therapy Master’s Program.


Jordan Harnar

Jordan Harnar has been swimming for several years. She has been on multiple swim teams and has played water polo. She is experienced in teaching swim lessons to kids of all abilities. She’s a peer coach and assists in a social skills class at her high school. She is lifeguard certified and has taken the course Children with Challenges through USA Swimming.  She enjoys being in the water, working with kids and meeting new people. In the future she hopes to work in the psychology field.

Jackie Cavins

Jackie is the Office Coordinator for Nurturing Water Therapies. Her education and initial career path was a paralegal, and she worked for numerous family law and criminal defense attorneys in Tacoma; but life and her special needs kids took her into a different direction in 2012.  In her spare time she is a PTSA President, HOA President, and manager of her son’s soccer team. Jackie lives in Renton and loves spending time with her husband and two boys,  and she is a huge Seahawks and Sounders fan!

Ilya 2019

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!

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.