First I want to thank the committee who voted for me to receive the NDPA Community Life Saver Award. I am so honored and proud.
Second, I want to rave about Tom Griffith's new FREE Lifesaving “Note & Float” program. I share Tom’s philosophy and agree that this program combined with Johnny Johnson’s Safer 3 will save thousands of lives and lifelong devastating injuries from near drowning. What I like most about Tom’s program is that it’ssimple. It’s something everyone can understand and is common sense. As many of you know, I have my own bracelet system, but I will be combining it with Tom’s “Note & Float” program for any open swimtype programs we offer. I have already suggested the vests that Tom recommends to a couple local facilities here in Columbia that have campers, Chesterbrook Academy and Palmetto Athletic Center. Plus, when children can float they can practice, and when they can practice swimming their swimming skills will improve. I still use a “progressive flotation device” for swimming lessons, but this required life jacket program for non-swimmers is the ticket when children are not actively be instructed by a swimming professional.
In addition children will go from non-swimmers to swimmers in no time at all if they are practicing their swimming skills instead of standing on the bottom or sitting on the sideline. I really like the durability of the jackets Tom suggests as well which are sold by Water Safety Products, Inc. I had the pleasure of speaking with Paula Panton of Water Safety Products at the NDPA conference. Because the jacket is made with vinyl coating over the foam, it is mildew resistant and will hold up much better to chlorine and even salt pools. One of the jackets we currently use has a zipper and in the salt pool the salt just eats the metal zippers up, as well as the neoprene fabric. This life jacket has plastic buckles instead. I also like its’ sleek design, allowing swimmers to move more freely unlike a lot of bulky ski vests. Check it out this life jacket, I can’t wait to get ours!
Third, I want to thank Kristen Goffman, the NDPA executive director and Mary Ann Downing, who convinced me to make the trip. Check out her article “Mean Moms Rule the Pool!”
I am also excited about installing my new Magna Latch at my outdoor swim school in Columbia, SC. I actually won the item in the NDPA silent auction. I want to thank Maureen Williams of D & D Technologies and NDPA Board Member for offering to send me the conversion kit so it will work on our gate.
One of the coolest things was that on the night before the conference, I ran into Mark Miller. Who’s Mark Miller? Well he didn’t know who I was either. In 1992 I attended the Aquatic School in Pittsburgh, PA to get certified as a Lifeguard Instructor. Guess who my teacher was? Mark Miller! 18 years later I recognized him and had the pleasure to talk to him again!
As always, I enjoyed seeing my colleagues and dear friends in Johnny & Cindy Johnson and Sue Nelson. I also had a nice conversation with the USA Swimming Make a Splash Campaign Manager Kim O’Shea. I also got to talk with Ashley Spitsnogle, who did a beautiful job
illustrating “Josh, the Baby Otter,” A tale promoting Water Safety.
Last but not least, I also had the pleasure of meeting the new president Kim Tyson and Vice President Robert Ogoreuc from Slippery Rock University. Before getting my master’s at the University of South Carolina, I attended California University of PA. So it was neat to see so many people from Slippery Rock University of PA and Indiana University of PA.
Most importantly, I felt blessed to be part of such a unique, diverse group of people all who have a passion to achieve one common goal: Reduce drowning. Drowning is Preventable, and I thank all my colleagues and friends of NDPA for their past, current, and future efforts.