An All-American swimmer during the early 1990s, Gareis has achieved fame both in and out of the pool. She earned All-American honors in the 100 butterfly (1990, 1991) and 200 freestyle relay (1990). In addition, she won the Middle Atlantic Conference Championship in the 100 butterfly (1990,1991,1992) and 200 butterfly (1992) during her career at the College. As a sophomore, she placed fifth in the 100 fly, eighth in the 200 freestyle relay and also placed eighth in the 100 butterfly as a junior at the NCAA Championships.
Currently, she still holds the school record in the 100 butterflies with a time of 58.798 from a 1991 performance. A 1988 graduate of McCaskey High School in Lancaster and a 1993 graduate of F&M with a degree in accounting, Gareis has achieved equal fame away from swimming. The winner of numerous beauty pageants, such as Miss Hawaiian Tropic and Miss New York, she finished in the top six at the 1992 Miss USA Pageant.
An actress, she currently portrays Grace Turner on The Young and the Restless, and she has had roles in movies such as The 6th Day, The Mirror Has Two Faces and Miss Congeniality.