Maria Zarro-Anaya

Maria, affectionately known as "Coach Z", comes to our Lil’ Guppies family from the San Pedro/Rancho Palos Verdes area. Her affinity for the water since she was a small child makes being in the water second nature. Maria earned her BA from the University of California, Los Angeles and her MA.Ed from Concordia University, Irvine. Growing up, Maria participated in many sports, including swimming, surfing, and water skiing. As a teacher, she coached the high school coed swimming and diving teams for 15 years. During her summers, Maria taught swim classes ranging from infants to adults, including developmentally delayed, autistic, and other special needs children, and performed senior lifeguard duties for the City of Carson. She holds her certifications in WSI, lifeguarding, first aid, CPR for the professional, and NFHS coaching. Maria is also a mother of two daughters, who participated in competitive swimming, lifeguarding, and swim instruction. Maria loves the honesty of children and teaching to all levels. She looks forward to teaching you and your children, from water safety to specialized competitive strokes.  Maria’s motto: Swim for life!

Jessica Sandidge

Jessica has been teaching swimming for over ten years. She helped design the Baby Swim program for New York’s Imagine Swimming, using songs and playtime to teach infants and toddlers to swim in the parent & me classes.  She also happens to be an accomplished opera singer and has performed on the stages of Carnegie Hall, Metropolitan Opera, Sarasota Opera, and New York City Opera! Jessica is extremely passionate about working with children and also teaches piano and singing lessons to children and adults. Welcome Jessica! 

Michael Farmer

Michael has been involved in swimming since he was 7 years old, progressing through age-group swim team, high school and club, setting high school records, and training with teammates on the US Olympic team.  Michael also swam and played water polo in college.  Michael currently competes with the US Masters Swim Team, and is certified ASCA levels 1-3 and USMS 1 & 2.  To finance his education, Michael started an age-group swim team with 10 swimmers.  Nine years later, the team included over 300 swimmers, with several boys and girls swimming at national level on into college.  He adds strong stroke technique to our team.  Michael has always been passionate about swimming, developing swimmers from 18 months to 87 years old, seeing them blossom as swimmers, and, more importantly, as people with pride and positive self-esteem – no matter what their age.  With swimming, everything is possible!


Alyson Arsenault

Aly is originally from Massachusetts and was  a competitive synchronized swimmer for 10 years along with a seasonal speed swimmer from age 5 through college!  She started officially teaching swim lessons when she was 15 years old and has stuck with it ever since. Aly has spent the last six years as leadership in non-profit aquatics departments on the east coast perfecting her craft as a swim instructor.  She loves her lessons to be fun and silly yet driven to meet goals in a reasonable timeframe, thus making Aly a perfect fit for our Lil' Guppies team!  Aly's favorite stroke to teach and swim is butterfly.  One thing you will learn about Aly's lessons is that she can turn anything into a song, whether it be a skill you are learning, the weather, and everything in between! Welcome Aly! 

Yael Shacham

From the day Yael can remember she was connected to water. As a child, Yael swam competitively and became an assistant coach and swim instructor once she started high school.  In addition to teaching all ages of infants and children, Yael is also a certified sports & rehabilitation instructor and specializes in helping adults with orthopedic injuries and conditions rehabilitate in the water. Yael moved from Israel to the U.S. in 2016, where she began working for a swim school in Austin, Texas that specializes in teaching those with special needs including autism spectrum and other disabilities. Last summer Yael arrived in CA and we are so excited to have her join the Lil’ Guppies team! Yael is prepared for helping families enjoy the infinite benefits of the water, be safe and secure, and build water confidence with her devoted guidance. 

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Lilia Velasco

Welcome Lilia! Lilia was born and raised in Mexico and swam competitively in middle school and high school.  She decided to return to swimming in 2015 when enrolled in community college.  Lilia is an AmeriCorps member serving at the Red Cross where she teach CPR classes. Lilia received her Associates degree in Behavioral Science from West Los Angeles College and  will be attending CSUN in the fall to obtain my Bachelors degree in Deaf Studies.  For the past three years, she have been a lifeguard and swim instructor for children, including children with special needs and physical disabilities. Lilia is also a mom to her own 22 year old daughter and 25 year old son and her greatest satisfaction is being able to help a child learn how to swim safely in a pool while having fun! 


Shawn Mohamed

Shawn has been a swim instructor, lifeguard, & swimming pool supervisor for 3 years at his local YMCA and continues to this day. He is, Lifeguard, First Aid & CPR certified. Shawn has worked with children and adults of all ages and skill levels including autistic, developmentally delayed and emotionally disturbed children. Shawn has also been a swim team coach in for the YMCA. Shawn still continues his passion for teaching swimming to everyone of all ages!

Mykayla Franco-Rivas

Mykayla has taught swim lessons to all ages for the past five years.  She also has experience teaching infants and special needs students. Her goal is to help everyone she teaches feel safe and confident in the water. Mykayla believes learning water safety can be both empowering and super fun!  She can't wait to see you in the pool soon!

Aleya Spielman

Aleya Spielman grew up doing a myriad of water activities. During middle school, she did swim team and participated in the LA County Junior Lifeguard program for 6 summers- her last of which she was a cadet. During high school, she swam and played water polo for Santa Monica High School, where she was a captain and MVP in both sports. At the age of 16, she became a certified pool lifeguard and has been lifeguarding and doing swim lessons for the past 6 summers. She attended University of California, Davis, where she was President and Captain of the UC Davis Women’s Club Water Polo team, who won Nationals in 2013 and 2017. She has been around water her whole life, and aims to keep it that way! Aleya will be joining us on staff this year as lead lifeguard. 


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