Makai Swim School -Towards the Ocean

Tami in Hawaii, “This is why we swim!”

Tami Nixon is the sole proprietor of Makai Swim School. Tami provides private and semi-private swimming lessons as well as traveling to private residences throughout the Napa Valley.

Tami began her swimming career at the age of 3 in the waters of Hawaii. She swam competitively through high school and at the age of 12 she began teaching swimming lessons for the American Red Cross. By age 18, Tami had worked her way up to Pool Director, in charge of operating summer swim programs for a busy San Francisco Bay Area Red Cross.

In 1982 Tami moved to the Napa Valley and began teaching swimming in various backyard pools throughout the valley.

From 1982-1991 Tami worked at Sunrise Montessori of Napa Valley as a pre-school and kindergarten teacher and obtained her BA in early Childhood Education and a Montessori Teaching Credential.

By 1986 her clientele was so abundant that she decided to lease a friend’s backyard pool and have clients come to her.  She conducted swimming lessons at that venue for 3 years.

In 1989 the doors of Makai Swim School opened at the old Mount George Estates and Exertec Fitness Center, Napa, both leased venues.  Makai Swim School was the first private swim school in Napa.  Tami employed over 8 instructors part-time and by 1989 was teaching over 500 students per summer.  Classes that were offered consisted of Learn to Swim for 3-year-olds to adults, Parent-Child lessons, Synchronized Swimming, Swim Team, Water Safety Courses, and Water Polo. Tami was able to implement a very successful teacher-training program and clients who wished to have instructors come to their homes sought after her teachers.

By 1994 Makai Swim School was ready to expand.  With hopes of negotiating more pool time for the swim school, the owner of Mt. George Estates and Tami were unable to come to an agreement.  Sadly Makai Swim School no longer had a “home”.  With the hopes of locating an alternative venue, and unable to find one, Tami did not want to let her clients and instructors down, to show good faith, Tami opted to bring the entire swim school to Healthquest, a local gym in Napa.

After working at Healthquest for 3 years Tami missed the enjoyment of running her own business.  She then decided to teach in backyard pools throughout the Napa Valley and began to rebuild her private clientele.  Again the business was so successful that in 2000, Tami decided to build her own swimming pool at her residence.  Over the last 16 years, Tami has been commuting to her backyard to instruct children and adults of all ages.  In the summer months, she teaches over 120 students per month.  Makai Swim School moved to Congregation Beth Shalom in April 2016 and now employs up to 20 instructors, pool attendants and, lifeguards.

In 2013, Tami began her Pilates Career and now teaches Private and Duet comprehensive Pilates classes in Napa, Napa Valley Pilates.


Parking is a breeze and there’s so much room for you to sit, watch, and applaud every new swim development!”

Mom of a swimmer

“We are honored to have Makai Swim School of Napa Valley join the ranks of the great schools that make up the membership of US Swim School Association,” said Sue Mackie, Executive Director of USSSA. “Our goal is to continue to provide our members with benefits that support them in their quest to deliver the best swimming and water safety instruction possible for their students. The more children we are able to reach and provide proper swim lessons for through our members, the more lives we will be able to save from drowning.”