Our Ohana

Meet our Staff

Makai Swim School is founded on the premise that each student’s individual needs be met and challenged. Each student has a unique learning curve when it comes to swimming based on fear, experience, emotional, and physical development. We strive to uncover and meet each student where they are in their particular phase and honor and encourage their development along the way.

Teaching Swimming since 1974!

Our History

Tami Nixon is the owner and operator of Makai Swim School, LLC. Tami began her swimming career as a toddler 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 became the Aquatics 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 also worked at Sunrise Montessori of Napa Valley as a pre-school and kindergarten teacher and obtained her BA in early Childhood Education as well as a Montessori Teaching Credential. Concurrently Tami taught dance and drama classes at Tami Nixon’s Children’s Dance Ensemble, Napa Regional Dance Company, Napa Valley Language Academy, and Napa Children’s Theater Company.

In 1989 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 develop and implement a very successful teacher-training program.

By 1994 Makai Swim School was ready to expand and Tami opted to bring the entire swim school into a partnership with Healthquest Fitness Center, a local gym in Napa. At the same time Tami opened Studio Arts Napa Valley, a place where dance, art, music and drama classes were offered to all ages. 

After working with Healthquest Fitness Center for 3 years Tami missed the enjoyment of owning and operating her own swim school. She then decided to teach in backyard pools throughout the Napa Valley and began to rebuild her private clientele.

In 2000 Tami decided to build her own swimming pool at her residence.

Tami employed instructors to assist her in teaching at her home for more than 15 years. 

In 2015 Congregation Beth Shalom reached out to Tami to lease their pool to Makai Swim School. Since then, Makai Swim School has grown into a wonderful place to enjoy swimming lessons, open swim for families and camps. Makai Swim School employs more than 20 employees and serves over 2000 families a year.

Tami continues to train and foster the development of each one of her employees and works to ensure that every employee has the tools necessary to not only be successful at their job but also in their life as well.

In 2014 Tami obtained her Comprehensive Pilates Certification and continues to teach and practice Pilates today. Tami’s Montessori education, dance, and Pilates career continue to play an important role in her tried and true swimming instruction methodology. Understanding child development, psychology, and how the physical and emotional development all work together is crucial for a successful outcome. 

Tami can be reached by email at: tami@makaiswimschool.com