You might say that Jill White is an emerging star in the aquatics industry. Her dedication to training lifeguards and teaching aquatic safety led her to start Starfish Aquatics. Founded in 2000, White has doubled the company size every year, training close to 8,000 lifeguards.

“We developed a program that was reasonably priced that included a total comprehensive aquatics program that went beyond lifeguard training,” White says, explaining that the program is a one-package deal instead of a la carte.

The 49-year-old aquatics veteran began as a lifeguard and swim instructor during high school in the suburbs of Chicago. In college she pursued a degree in physical education. Her husband is a swim coach; they run swim teams, manage facilities, coordinate swim events and schools.

After working with Jeff Ellis for a number of years, White saw the need for a different approach to the marketplace. Thus, she created Starfish Aquatics. In conjunction with the American Safety & Health Institute, Starfish Aquatics uses the most up-to-date materials and research to train students.

“It’s very rewarding to be able to do something you love that can also make an impact in people’s lives,” White says. “Not only from being able to save lives but being able to offer opportunity for people to enjoy water activities, as well as mentoring young people through a career.”

White says the industry needs to be more amenable to change. “I think a lot of times people are hesitant to change even though they know there’s something that might meet their needs a little better.”