Step Into Swim Awards Grant Funding to the Michael Phelps Foundation to Expand Water Safety Programming for Children
The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance recognizes the impact of the Michael Phelps Foundation’s IM Program with $20,000 grant to increase access to free, comprehensive water safety curriculum
Alexandria, Va. (March 9, 2023) – Step Into Swim, an initiative of the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) dedicated to creating more swimmers through safe swim education, today announced it awarded $20,000 through its 2023 grant program to the Michael Phelps Foundation. In its efforts to build confidence in young swimmers and decrease the nation’s already-high drowning rate, Step Into Swim continues to advocate for increased access to water safety education and encourages lesson providers to apply for funding.
“Learning to swim empowers children to be water safety champions and helps prevent drowning,” said Rowdy Gaines, three-time Olympic Gold Medalist and Vice President of Partnerships and Development for PHTA, who leads the Step Into Swim initiative. “Step Into Swim takes swim safety seriously and we applaud the Michael Phelps Foundation among all the learn-to-swim lesson providers for doing the same. They put children first and teach them the skills they need to not only survive, but thrive in the water.”
With Step Into Swim latest grant, the Michael Phelps Foundation will offer swim safety lessons to more than 400 children in underserved communities and instill the lifesaving skill of learning to swim. In fact, learning to swim from a qualified instructor reduces the drowning rate by 88% among children ages 1 through 4, the very same age group impacted most by drowning deaths.
“I was first introduced to the water through a water-safety program, and I am committed to helping expand access to that same learn-to-swim program through our IM program,” said Michael Phelps, Founder of the Michael Phelps Foundation. “We are proud to partner with Rowdy Gaines and the PHTA’s Step Into Swim initiative to help teach more children to feel comfortable and confident in and around the water. Together, we can help inspire and educate the next generation about the valuable life skill of learning to swim.”
In addition to the life-saving skill of learning to swim, the Michael Phelps Foundation’s IM program provides a comprehensive curriculum that includes goal setting and healthy living (emotional and physical) lessons for children.
In 2022, Step Into Swim raised over $750,000 dollars, which provided grants to more than 60 facilities in 46 states and funded swim lessons for 23,500 children. The initiative has gifted more than 300,000 swim lessons since 2012 through YMCAs, Jewish Community Centers, Boys and Girls Clubs, and many more. Step Into Swim accepts grant applications on a rolling basis. Interested learn-to-swim providers can learn more and apply at www.stepintoswim.org/get-involved/apply/.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Drowning Data. https://www.cdc.gov/drowning/data/index.html
 Association Between Swimming Lessons and Drowning in Childhood, A Case-Control Study: Ruth Brenner, et al. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4151293/
About The Michael Phelps Foundation:
The Michael Phelps Foundation (MPF) is focused on promoting water safety, healthy living, and the pursuit of dreams, especially for children. Founded in 2008, MPF has provided learn-to-swim, healthy living, and goal-setting programming to more than 250,000 people around the world through strategic partnerships with the Boys & Girls Club of America, Special Olympics International, and the Level Field Fund. For more information, please visit:http://www.michaelphelpsfoundation.org.
About the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance and Step Into Swim:
The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA), a non-profit organization with nearly 3,500 members from around the world, was established in 1956 to support, promote, and protect the common interests of the $36.5B pool, hot tub, and spa industry. PHTA provides education, advocacy, standards development, research, and market growth to increase our members’ professionalism, knowledge, and profitability. Additionally, PHTA facilitates the expansion of swimming, water safety, and related research and outreach activities aimed at introducing more people to swimming, making swimming environments safer, and keeping pools open to serve communities. For more information, visit www.phta.org.
Step Into SwimTM is an initiative of the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance and its foundation committed to safe swim education and drowning prevention. By investing in the next generation of swimmers through learn-to-swim programming, the Step Into Swim initiative instills confidence, empowers long-term participation in water activities, touts the positive benefits of water play, and advocates for safe practices. Since its inception in 2012, Step Into Swim has played a role in reducing drowning fatalities and has gifted swim lessons to more than 300,000 children with support from community organizations, partners, industry advocates, members and more. For more information, visit www.stepintoswim.org.
Making Water Safety a Priority This Pool Season
As a community, let’s make a difference and put water safety as a top priority this entire pool season, not just during Water Safety Month.
As Water Safety Month comes to an end, the importance of education and awareness remains a top priority, especially during the busy summer months. Drowning prevention and water safety efforts are ongoing, requiring the collective efforts of both pool owners as well as professionals to educate and promote proper safety measures. As a community, spreading the message, sharing resources, and working with organizations like the National Drowning Prevention Alliance and the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance can help to ensure a safe and enjoyable water experience for everyone.
The 5 Layers of Protection
Drowning is a leading cause of death for children aged 1-4, and it can occur quickly and silently. To effectively prevent drowning incidents, it is crucial to implement multiple layers of protection. By understanding and embracing the five layers of protection, we can actively prevent tragedies and save lives. Take a few minutes to learn these layers, and together we can create a safer environment:
- Constant Adult Supervision: Never leave children unattended near water.
- Secure Barriers: Install proper fencing and barriers to limit access to pools and other water bodies.
- Water Safety Education: Teach children how to swim and educate them about water safety rules.
- Emergency Preparedness: Learn CPR and basic water rescue techniques.
- Life Jackets: Ensure children wear appropriate life jackets when participating in water activities.
Statistics Highlighting The Urgency of Water Safety
- In the United States, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children aged 1-4 and the second leading cause for children aged 14 and under.
- The World Health Organization estimates that drowning is one of the top five causes of death for individuals aged 1-14 in 48 out of 85 monitored countries.
- More than half (54%) of children aged 4-17 in the United States are unable to perform basic water safety skills.
- June has the highest number of fatal and non-fatal drowning incidents in the U.S.
- Nearly 80% of drowning victims are male, and African-American children aged 5-19 experience drowning rates 5.5 times higher than Caucasian children.
- Drowning incidents can occur in as little as two minutes, and victims often do not signal for help.
- Participation in formal swimming lessons by children aged 1-4 significantly reduces the risk of drowning.
These important facts highlight the critical need for ongoing education, access to swim lessons, and the implementation of preventative measures. Making water safety a priority during the pool season is crucial for families to protect their loved ones and prevent tragic incidents. Children are particularly vulnerable to drowning, and accidents can occur unexpectedly. By implementing better water safety measures, families empower themselves to respond effectively and ensure the well-being of their loved ones.
PHTA Launches New Jobseeker Website: WorkInAquatics.com
(Alexandria, VA) – The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA), the trade association representing the swimming pool, hot tub and spa industry, today announced a major milestone in its workforce development program as it launched its brand new jobseeker website, WorkInAquatics.com and robust job board made exclusively for PHTA member companies, careers.WorkInAquatics.com.
The cornerstone of the program is the consumer website, which serves as the program hub and provides jobseekers with critical information about the industry, including in-demand positions, career tracks, earning potential, personal success stories and more. Members of PHTA are invited to create their very own Employer profiles and post jobs free of charge on the only industry-specific job board on the market.
PHTA leadership first revealed plans for the program, known as the Pool Professionals Pipeline, at its board meeting last November. Alongside its experienced steering committee of industry experts, PHTA developed the program to enhance jobseeker awareness of the aquatics industry and to meet the demands for new talent amid member concerns over the labor shortage and the compounded effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pool and hot tub industry is awash with potential for growth, but like many other industries today, we are limited due to the shortage of skilled labor and younger generations of workers entering trades such as ours,” said PHTA President and CEO Sabeena Hickman. “The importance of this program cannot be understated – we heard our members’ concerns loud and clear, and we’re proud to finally unveil this next step in our plan to welcome jobseekers to our industry.”
Along with the jobseeker website and job board, the program will be supported by a social media presence on Facebook and LinkedIn, public relations, advertising campaigns and ongoing content development of videos, new resources and other assets. PHTA members can expect additional resources and ways to expand their visibility among today’s active jobseekers.
The work for PHTA and the industry is just beginning. “To truly make a splash, we must prioritize investing in recruiting and training a new pool of candidates to join our industry,” said Hickman. “Having a visible presence and voice out there advocating for our industry is vital for our continued growth and success. PHTA is committed to supporting this jobseeker awareness campaign for the long-term – and ultimately, to driving engaged and qualified candidates to our members to find their new careers.”
To learn more about PHTA’s program and access exclusive resources and opportunities, visit phta.org/workforce or contact [email protected].
PHTA Standards Consensus Committee Appoints New Members
The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) Standards Consensus Committee (SCC) is pleased to announce the appointment of a new Vice Chair and four new Voting Members. The SCC is PHTA’s official consensus voting body, responsible for reviewing and voting on all pool, spa, and hot tub standards to be approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Members of the SCC are classified into one of four interest categories: Producer, User-Government, User-Consumer, or General Interest.
The new SCC Vice Chair is Bruce Carney, owner of American Pools & Spas in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He is a member in the Producer interest category. Carney has worked in the pool industry since 1970 in various capacities, including construction, design, renovation, facility evaluation, and maintenance. He was very involved with both the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals and the National Swimming Pool Foundation before they merged into PHTA, and has also been both a trainer and a presenter for the American Red Cross.
The SCC’s four new Voting Members are:
- Kevin Baugh, User-Government
Baugh is an Environmental Health Specialist III for the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment in Olathe, KS. He earned a Master of Environment Policy and Management and a Bachelor of Environmental Science from American Public University Systems. Baugh holds several professional certifications, including Certified Pool & Spa Operator and Certified Environmental Scientist.
- Megan Ferraro, User-Consumer
Ferraro is Executive Director of The ZAC Foundation in Malvern, PA. She earned a B.A. in Political Science from Villanova University. Ferraro has been an advocate for water safety for over 10 years and serves as Co-Chair for both the CA Water Safety Coalition Board and the National Drowning Prevention Alliance Advisory Committee.
- Alan Korn, User-Consumer
Korn is Executive Director and General Counsel of Abbey’s Hope Charitable Foundation in Washington, DC. He earned his JD from Washington University Law School and his BS from Indiana University. He has worked in the water safety and product safety community for over 25 years, including the original development and further revisions of the Virginia Graeme Baker Act.
- Lexi Schmidt, User-Consumer
Schmidt is a Senior Mechanical Engineer at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, FL. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Professional Engineer License for the state of Florida. At Walt Disney World, she has spent nearly 10 years working on commercial pool systems and consulting on new build designs.
“I’d like to congratulate Bruce and welcome the new members of the Standards Consensus Committee,” says SCC Chair Kris Bridges, MCP, CBO, CZA, Building Official/Zoning Administrator for the City of Martinsville, VA. “I know our new members will bring a significant breadth of knowledge from the areas of pool compliance, advocacy, construction, and operation. The SCC performs an important step in the process of Standards Development and it’s wonderful to have these talented professionals on board.”
PHTA is the leading industry organization recognized by ANSI to develop and promote national consensus standards for residential and public swimming pools, hot tubs, and spas. In 2023, PHTA is proudly celebrating 40 years of being an ANSI Accredited Standards Developer.
For more information, please visit the Standards Consensus Committee webpage on the PHTA website or contact [email protected].
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