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Meet the Team

Our Team

  • Franchise Owners

    Franchise Owners

    Liz and Phil Gabriel

    "My Puddle Ducks journey started back in May 2009 when I was looking for opportunities to set up my own business and I fell in love with the Puddle Ducks brand. My training and business set up took place in Autumn 2009 and Puddle Ducks Nottinghamshire and North Leicestershire was born on 4th January 2010 with just 16 customers and 3 pools! 

    By 2014 the business had grown so much that my husband Phil also came on board full time and now spends the majority of his time managing our own Swimming Pool and The Health Club and Café that came with it when we bought it in July 2017.  

    We celebrated our 10th birthday in January 2020 and are now lucky enough to operate out of several venues, along with a fantastic team of people!

    As well as teaching thousands of children to swim and love the water we have also helped to forge many friendships and make lots of wonderful memories along the way. We feel very privileged to be part of so many children’s formative years and look forward to lots more Puddle Duck's fun in the years to come!" 

    Liz and Phil - Franchise Owners

  • Welcome to the Office Team!

    Want to know who is behind the scenes and helps to ensure that everything runs "swimming-ly"?? Say hello to some not so familiar faces - Our Office Team!!

    Charlotte - Customer Services Manager

    "I joined the Puddle Ducks team in July 2022 as the Customer Service Manager, so I manage all day to day communication from new and existing customers via email and telephone.

    Having spent many years working within the Schools HR team for Notts County Council, I am so pleased that I can continue working with children as they learn a life skill that is so important to me and my child.

    I have 1 daughter, Lyla who is 7 and being able to work school hours allows me to spend more time with her whilst she is still young"

    Andrea - Marketing Manager

    "I first joined Puddle Ducks with my eldest daughter Abigail in 2013 and then with my younger daughter Jessica in 2015. Both my girls have been with Puddle Ducks from Floaties to Dippers and are both in Swim Academy now they are at school.

    Each of my girls are very different in terms of confidence levels so it has been great to experience first-hand how the teachers adapt the activities within a lesson to ensure a happy swimmer who progresses at a rate that is just right for them.

    When a part time marketing role became available in August 2017, I jumped at the chance to help market a brand I love, whilst enabling me to drop off and pick up both my girls from school each day."

  • Our Teaching Team

    Nikola Nascimento

    Head of Teaching

    Baby and Pre School and Swim Academy Teacher

    Where do I teach?

    The Key Health Club and The Nottingham Hilton Hotel.

    All about me:

    "I became a customer of Puddle Ducks in October 2010 when my first-born son Isaac was a just a few weeks old and I loved the classes from the start. Once Isaac was a Splasher I was looking for a new career, that would both fit in well with Isaac and one that I would also really enjoy, so I trained to become a Baby and Preschool swimming teacher with Puddle Ducks and so in September 2011 my teaching career began!

    12 months later I was enjoying it so much  I also trained to become a Puddle Ducks Swim Academy Swimming teacher, as our Puddle Ducks children had grown and many were now of school age, so it was great to be able to still teach them and remain part of their swimming journey.

    My second son Samuel came along in February 2013 and after only a term off I was back in the water doing the job I love!

    I was promoted to Senior teacher in October 2014 so was now in charge of observing the other teachers in the team, to ensure we are all teaching to the same high Puddle Ducks standards.

    I love the face that my role has developed and changed so much over the years, but I still get to enjoy the buzz of teaching and seeing the children progress. In July 2017 I was delighted to be appointed Head of Teaching and more recently I was appointed as a Programme Assessor for Duck HQ. This means that I can now assess and sign off new trainee teachers and my Head of Teaching role means I am in charge of all things technical within our franchise."

    My favourite activity:

    "My favourite activity...ooo it’s so hard to choose, but I absolutely love all things to do with PJ week! It is so important to me to see how all the children have learnt personal survival skills and can put them in to practice."

    My most memorable moment:

    "I go to work with a smile and go home with an even bigger one! It is so rewarding to see children and their parents go through their swimming journey! When parents tell me their child talks  about me at home, I feel most proud that I play an important role in their life and their love for water."

  • Alex Shelton-Knight

    Baby and Pre School Teacher and Swim Academy Teacher

    Where do I teach?

    The Key Health Club and Hilton Leicester

    All about me:

    "Like many of the team, I started out with Puddle Ducks as a customer with my eldest daughter in 2014. We both loved the classes so decided to take the plunge to train to become a  Baby and Preschool teacher when the opportunity arose and my teaching career began in April 2018. 

    I was a midwife in my former work life so absolutely love the nurturing side of my Puddle Ducks teaching role but also the improved work life balance it provides with my two girls Macy and Imogen who are currently in Swim Academy and Little Dippers."

    My favourite activity:

    "I just love Rudolph the red nosed Reindeer on the float at Christmas, I always have such a laugh doing this!"

    My most memorable moments:

    "This is a hard one as there are so many! I'd say the moments when any of my Dippers get their 5m award is always something that will stick with me, especially the ones who have been working really hard or have over come confidence issues."

  • Rachael Slater

    Swim Academy Teacher

    Where do I teach?

    The Key Health Club and The Portland Centre

    All about me:

    "I joined Puddle Ducks as a Swim Academy teacher in April 2018. I have been a swimming teacher since July 2014 and I also teach school swimming.

    What I love about the Puddle Ducks Swim Academy programme is that it incorporates fun into the lessons whilst teaching children such an important life skill. I love teaching and seeing children progress and achieve things they may have thought they couldn’t do." 

    My favourite activity:

    "I love everything to do with PJ Week as we always have lots of fun but it is the most important lesson we teach!"

    My most memorable moments:

    "Over the years, I have had customers come back to me with stories where their child has had to put what they have learnt into practice. It makes me so proud to know that my swimmers are able to go away and understand how to be safe around open water."

  • Lizzi Ryder Gadd

    Swim Academy Teacher

    Where do I teach?

    The Key Health Club, The Portland Centre and Hilton Leicester

    All about me:

    I have always worked with children and loved every aspect of it. When a close friend suggested that I re-train as a swimming instructor, I jumped at the chance! Lockdown has delayed my training but now that I am fully qualified, I can't wait to start! 

    My favourite activity:

    I have so many but I absolutely love watching the children in my Level 3 and 4 classes learning how to blow bubbles to enable them to sit on the bottom of the pool. They love to do this fun activity and it is great to watch them do it! 

    My most memorable moments:

    I love to see how much each child progresses and grows in confidence each week and how a little change can make all the difference. A child in one of my Level 1 classes would not put her face in the water. Her Mum didn't have a lot of water confidence but bought herself some goggles so that she could wear them in the lesson with her daughter. She immediately put her face in, just like her mum! It was lovely to see and now that parents are no longer in the water, I know that she will carry on going from strength to strength.

  • Laura Spackman

    Baby and Pre School Teacher

    Where do I teach?

    The Key Health Club 

    All about me:

    Both my boys swim with Puddle Ducks and we have all thoroughly enjoyed the classes. My eldest, Wilf is now in Swim Academy but I still get to enjoy being in the water with my youngest son each week.

    I was previously a primary school teacher and absolutely loved working with the little ones. Having taken some time out to be with my boys, I now can't wait to get in the water and back to being a teacher again!  

    My favourite activity:

    It is so hard to choose as there are so many great activities! I really enjoyed teaching the last week of the Christmas lessons as there were so many fun activities and songs. I especially loved the activity of the children jumping from Santa's sleigh (the large float) and then swimming to collect the presents.

    It is wonderful to watch the children's confidence build when they are doing the jumping activities as they move from feeling nervous and needing a lot of reassurance to watching their confidence soar and seeing their beaming faces when they launch themselves independently into the pool.

    My most memorable moments:

    So far, my most memorable moment was teaching my very first lesson on my own - I loved every minute of it! Now as soon as I see the children arrive for their lesson, I feel the same excitement to begin their class as I did that first day. I finish each lesson looking forward to seeing the same children for their lesson next week and watching their confidence develop. 

  • Cate Woodrow-Smith

    Swim Academy Teacher

    Where do I teach?

    The Key Health Club, The Hilton Hotel Leicester and The Portland Centre

    All about me:

    Having been part of the Puddle Ducks Derbyshire franchise team for a number of years, I can't wait to get back into the water doing what I love! I have really missed teaching and also seeing each child grow in confidence and ability as they move through their swimming journey. 

    My favourite activity:

    There are so many that I could choose but my absolute favourite activity is a push & glide. They are so important & probably a little under rated and I love to see when a child finally gets it! It's great to see. I also can't forget our PJ Week - such an important time as the children have the opportunity to feel what it's like to be clothed in the water and we can teach those necessary personal survival skills.

    My most memorable moment:

    I have so many moments to choose from but I absolutely love it when our swimmers make those little breakthroughs every week, like blowing bubbles, putting their faces in the water and just starting to smile & enjoy their lessons! 

  • Pam Garget

    Baby and Pre School Teacher

    Where do I teach?

    The Nottingham Hilton Hotel and The Key Health Club 

    All about me:

    I have always had a love of the water and was a competitive swimmer when I was younger. I still enjoy being in the pool and now regularly swim with the 'Masters' at the Nottingham Portland Swimming Club. When the opportunity came up to work at Puddle Ducks, I jumped at the chance and I absolutely love it! It's just lovely to see how much the children are growing in confidence and ability every week that I am with them.

    My favourite activity:

    It's so hard to choose just one but I really do enjoy the jumping activities. I love seeing the children surprise themselves (and their parents..) with how far they can jump or how much fun it is to fully go under water after a big jump. The look on all their faces is amazing to see.

    My most memorable moment:

    For me, it just has to be PJ Week! It was so much fun to take part in and also fantastic to deliver such important potential life preserving activities. There were big smiles from everyone  the week that it took place and lots of those smiles were from me!