By Angela Higginbotham

Originally from Long Island, N.Y., Joani Maskell first became an entrepreneur at only 11 years old when she began teaching swimming lessons. Maskell is a mother of two. She and her husband, Cliff, have enjoyed living in Mandarin for more than 30 years. After attending graduate school at the University of Florida, Maskell worked as a special education teacher for four years and a large portion of her career was spent with Delta Airlines.

A passionate volunteer, Maskell enjoys giving her time to others and making a difference in the community. She is a board member of both the Mandarin Chamber of Commerce and of the Women Business Owners of North Florida organization. In 2016, she was named Small Business Leader of the Year for the Mandarin Council.

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Maskell opened Swimming Safari Swim School with a goal to help teach and educate as many children and adults possible about swimming and water safety. Maskell is proud to call Mandarin home and hopes to expand her southside business to other locations around Jacksonville.

  1. What is your favorite thing about living in Mandarin?

I’ve lived in Mandarin for such a long time and I’ve always loved the trees and the frogs.

  1. What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?

Making the swim school happen. It was hard to even get a loan at first since I wanted to build an indoor swimming pool. This is my dream and it’s a bigger success than I ever imagined. It’s so sophisticated behind the scenes as well with the website and all that goes along with technology these days. It takes a great team to make it all run smoothly and to keep our training where it needs to be.

  1. What is the most rewarding part about teaching kids and adults to swim?

Just knowing that we are making a difference in lives. We are constantly training and I don’t feel like I’m competing with anyone else. The most important thing to me is that people learn water safety. We go above and beyond to educate ourselves and others about all things important when in the water. It’s never too late to learn. We currently have 30 instructors that teach because they are passionate about water safety. We have taught kids from six months of age to grandparents who want to check it off their bucket list.

  1. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Most people think I spend all of my time swimming, but I really don’t. I like to read, listen to podcasts and exercise. I’m doing a bootcamp right now.

  1. Who has inspired you most?

I gravitate towards people that don’t have baggage. I have a great friend that had a swim school and then started consulting. I find her so inspirational as a person, coach and mentor.

Photo by Angela Higginbotham

Joani Maskell


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