10-Year Campaign Announced to Bolster Aquatics Industry

Simply teaching more people how to swim will result in reduced drowning rates, a decline in healthcare costs, and improved health and quality of life, according to the National Swimming Pool Foundation®, which Thursday launched the Step Into Swim™ campaign. The 10-year effort will initially partner with nine organizations that teach minority populations to swim. Increasing the numbers of swimmers will also build demand for public pools, spurring growth for the aquatics industry, according to NSPF CEO Tom Lachocki.

"Pool builders, retailers, service companies, renovators, distributors, manufacturers and industry associations all have a vested interest in the world having more swimmers," Lochocki said in a statement, adding that he envisions this effort creating as many as one million new swimmers. "More swimmers means more healthy people who are less likely to drown."

Statistics suggest that about half of all Americans are afraid of deep water or cannot swim.

The Step Into Swim Campaign asks aquatics industry professionals and associations, as well as others, to donate or sponsor organizations that are already teaching people to swim. NSPF recently issued a white paper to help the public and private sectors understand the financial benefits of creating more swimmers and how more people swimming can relieve skyrocketing healthcare costs propelled by physical inactivity, an aging society and drowning rates. "Since, 2003, we have given about $4 million to fund research to solve many important problems and demonstrate the benefits of aquatic activity," said John Puetz, president of NSPF's board of directors. "Now, we will shift more resources and focus more efforts to solve major problems by encouraging greater aquatic activity."

The Step Into Swim Campaign will officially kick off at the Step Into Swim Congress on Oct. 10, just prior to the 9th annual World Aquatic Health™ Conference in Norfolk, Va. It will feature nine leading organizations - including the YMCA of the USA, the American Red Cross, the U.S. Swim School Association, The World's Largest Swimming Lesson and USA Swimming - presenting proposals to expand their ability to teach more people to swim.

Said Puetz, "The solution is clear: The better we work together, the more impact we will make."

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