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Meet Andrea Gillette of Westside Swim Lessons

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrea Gillette.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Andrea. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I have had a passion for the water ever since I can remember. My parents started taking me to the pool at 6 months old dunking me under the water and holding me while floating and kicking around. By 2 and a half I could swim on my own and was water safe in the water. I grew up with a pool so I was constantly in it every chance I got.

By age 15 I received my first Lifeguarding certification from Red Cross along with my CPR and first Aid and obtained my first job as a lifeguard and swim instructor at the high school I attended, Crossroads School in Santa Monica, CA. I taught private lessons on the weekends and group lessons during their summer camps. Once I graduated, I attended college in San Diego and worked for another swim company teaching private, semi- private and parent and me lessons.

When I moved back up to LA I took a break from teaching for a while doing different jobs but then in 2010 realized I had such a passion for helping others learn how to swim that I decided to get recertified and open up my own swim lesson company, Westside Swim Lessons. I have been teaching ever since and enjoy giving back to the community the very important survival skill of swimming.

Throughout my teaching swimming career, I have taught infants as young as 4 months, adults as old as 70 years. I have also provided services to celebrity clientele such as teaching Marlon Wayne’s, Brandy, and Dr Dre’s children and also Lifeguarded a private pool party for Will and Jada Smith’s son to name a few.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
When I first started, I had a pool that my friend was allowing me to use in Marina Del Rey to teach lessons out of. Then once she moved in July 2013, right in the middle of the busiest month of summer, I lost my pool location. All of the lessons I had where people that didn’t have access to a pool were coming to me, had to stop their lessons for the season until I was able to find another pool again. Finding a new place to teach was harder than I thought. Public pools only allowed you to reserve s lane with a permit for only a short amount of time, and on a certain day, and I needed more flexibility of having access more days of the week and in the morning, afternoon, and evenings as I had clients spread out in all different time slots. I needed to figure out a new option.

Then to my luck in May 2014 the renters moved out of my parent’s rental house in West LA so we jumped at the opportunity to move in. There was no pool but the backyard had the space to put in a pool. So the building process began. My fiancé is a designer and his family are in the construction business so if it wasn’t for the help of Will’s design ideas and Vargas Construction I wouldn’t have the pool I have today. I have been teaching lessons here ever since and feel truly blessed to be able to finally have my own pool to teach out of.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Westside Swim Lessons – what should we know?
Westside Swim Lessons has a fun yet progressive approach to teaching technique. We focus on getting the children water safe by helping them learn how to jump in and grab the wall or swim to the stairs as well as getting comfortable enough on their back so they can float on their back on their own. We also teach them how to learn how to roll from the front float back to the back float so they are able to breath on their back if they fall in and are too far from the wall or stairs.

We also teach them how to blow bubbles out the nose and mouth, front float and front glide, then add the glide with kick and the arms to get them moving face down. From there, we teach them how to pop up and breath, a technique I like to call “pop up breaths” which allows them to swim on their stomach with arm and leg actions and come up for a breath or as many as they need so they can continue swimming on their front for as long as they can.

With adults we help out with the psychological aspect of getting over their fear of going underwater or deep water and as well as help adults gain endurance if they have a set a goal of being able to swim for a triathlon.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I think offering only private or semi-private as opposed to group classes has been essential to our success. Focusing more allowing clientele a to have more one on one attention gives them the time to practice with more repetition helping them reach their desired goals as opposed to some swim places trying to cram as many kids or adults into one class as they can where they all have to rotate time with the instructor so all the get is really 5 minutes of attention out of a 30-minute class. We focus on quality, not quantity.


  • $40 for 30 minutes at WSL pool location
  • $60 for 45 minutes at WSL pool
  • $75 for 1 hour lessons. at WSL pool location
  • Create your own semi- private $25 per student for 30 minuted
  • Create your own semi-private $35 per student for 45 minutes
  • Create your own semi-private $45 per student for 1 hour
  • Lifeguard Services $60 per hour per Lifeguard

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Andrea Gillette
William Vargas Machuca

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