Drowning prevention is a critical yet often overlooked issue, particularly concerning the safety of young children. In the wake of her daughter Kourtney’s tragic drowning, Kristina Andrews took a stand against this silent crisis by founding ‘Kourtney’s Kause.’ Her initiative stands as a poignant example of transforming personal loss into a force for greater awareness and education in water safety. Kristina’s journey underscores the vital need for water competency, proactive measures, and the tools and knowledge for families to protect their loved ones.

We are proud to announce our November 2023 Water Safety Champion of The Month, Kristina Andrews!

The Genesis of Kourtney’s Kause

Kristina’s journey began with a profound loss. After the drowning of her daughter, Kourtney, she faced an unsettling reality: there was only one Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) instructor in the entire Bay Area. As a mother determined to protect her six-month-old son and other children, she saw the need for accessible, affordable ISR lessons – a program that teaches infants and toddlers essential survival skills in water.

Kristina spearheaded efforts to bring ISR lessons to more families in the South Bay Area by starting Kourtney’s Kause. They focused on making these lessons not only accessible but also accommodating to various schedules, catering to both working and non-working parents. The organization expanded rapidly, now reaching over a 50-mile span, with aspirations to own an indoor space for year-round training.

However, Kristina’s vision extends beyond immediate survival skills. Kourtney’s Kause is currently developing a transition program for students who have completed survival swim lessons, aiming to bridge the gap to more advanced swimming techniques and strokes so that children can learn to acclimate to new physical attributes, weight, and buoyancy and maintain confidence in and around water.

Addressing Misinformation and Unifying the Approach

A crucial part of Kristina’s mission is addressing and correcting common misconceptions about drowning prevention. She emphasizes that ISR lessons are not about “throwing babies in water” but about gentle, gradual, and skilled instruction over a six-week course. Each ISR program is meticulously designed, differing significantly from non-certified programs that might imitate but not replicate ISR’s effectiveness and safety.

Along with addressing misinformation, the goal is to diminish the tension between different swimming methodologies. Kristina believes in a collaborative approach, where recognition from larger organizations can help break down barriers and foster a unified goal. Ideally, every child would start with survival swim lessons, with a seamless transition to more advanced techniques as they grow. Kourtney’s Kause is working to set an example for others to follow by implementing transition lessons for children who have completed their ISR course.

Actionable Advice for Parents and Caregivers

In her journey, Kristina encountered a startling gap in awareness and information regarding water safety, especially from child advocates. Despite being a diligent parent, she was unaware of the risks associated with water, as she didn’t have a pool at home. This lack of awareness is common among many parents who may not perceive water as a significant danger if it isn’t a prominent feature in their daily lives. 

This oversight is something Kourtney’s Kause is striving to address. It’s a reminder that drowning doesn’t discriminate based on proximity to a pool or natural body of water. The organization’s efforts extend beyond physical swimming lessons to encompass education and advocacy, emphasizing that knowledge and awareness are crucial. This education aims to fill the void left by conventional child safety advice, ensuring that parents and caregivers are equipped with comprehensive information to safeguard their children in all environments, water included.

Thank You For Making A Difference In Water Safety!

Stories like Kristina’s, one of hope rising after profound loss, are a testament to the strength of the human spirit. They speak even more to the innate sense of responsibility to the people and world around us. It’s not just about teaching survival skills in the water but also about fostering a broader awareness of water safety and, in turn, saving lives.

Thank you for being a Water Safety Champion!

If you are making a difference in water safety and drowning prevention or know someone who is, we want to hear your story. 
Please take a moment to share the story on our website for a chance to be nationally recognized as a Water Safety Champion.

water safety champion of the month dr linda quan

Every year, thousands face the danger of drowning, making water safety a matter of paramount importance. The battle against drowning is one fueled by clinical observation, meticulous research, and deep passion. 

Few voices echo with as much authority and passion as Dr. Linda Quan’s. As an advocate for over four decades, her dedication and scientific rigor shine through every initiative she undertakes. 

We are proud to announce our October 2023 Water Safety Champion of The Month, Dr. Linda Quan.

The Origins of a Lifesaving Mission

Dr. Quan’s dedication to water safety was sparked during her pediatric residency and subsequent fellowship, where she encountered numerous out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, predominantly from drownings. Her collaboration with Medic One, groundbreaking in its time, exposed her to the harrowing realities of water-related incidents, especially a case involving a three-year-old. This propelled her to delve deeper into resuscitation and drowning prevention, ultimately establishing an exhaustive database detailing drowning events of children under 21. 

The effects of her efforts reverberated through governmental corridors, resulting in the enactment of laws targeting unmaintained pools.

Research and Study on Drowning

Dr. Quan’s endeavors highlighted an essential truth: there’s an alarming lack of scientific focus in the realm of drowning prevention. “It’s been kind of a free-for-all,” she remarks. Throughout her career, she has strived to elevate the discourse on drowning from anecdotal evidence to a science-driven one.

Her extensive research, including work on the U.S. National Water Safety Action Plan, underscores the critical role of documentation in identifying at-risk groups. For instance, toddlers are frequently recognized as a high-risk category, but we cannot overlook other demographics. Her research underscored the need for a comprehensive focus on drowning prevention, not just limited to children. While the pediatric world concentrates on the high-risk toddler group, Dr. Quan’s research suggests that the age bracket of teenagers to 24 years is also alarmingly susceptible.

A Holistic Approach to Prevention

One of the cornerstones of Dr. Quan’s efforts has been fostering community awareness. She has continually sought to rally various factions within the water safety community to unify their approaches. She brought together diverse stakeholders, including swim coaches, coroners, lifeguards, and marine patrol, ensuring a holistic approach to water safety. 

Her collaborations with entities like Seattle Children’s Hospital, the University of Washington School of Medicine, and various governmental bodies have been instrumental in drafting policies that bolster water safety. A prime example is the law mandating the fencing or covering of unmaintained pools. But there’s more to be done. Her county experienced no pediatric drownings over a span of three years, but, as she stresses, “This isn’t politics. This is what good government does.” 

Dr. Quan advocates for a more extensive community approach to water safety that addresses the entire age spectrum. She emphasizes the role of parents in not only safeguarding toddlers but also in educating older children about the distinct risks associated with open water.

She envisions a harmonized community approach, where all stakeholders rally behind a unified, evidence-based water safety initiative.

Moving Towards a Safer Future

As technology and medicine progress, Dr. Quan envisions a future where the tenets of resuscitation are further refined. There’s no denying the advancements in drowning resuscitation, but as Dr. Quan astutely points out, “people need to acquire skills and knowledge – at least the basics.” Resuscitation is an essential aspect, but the broader objective should be prevention. 

“What are the rules?” she poses, urging that foundational water safety knowledge be universally ingrained.

Thank You For Making A Difference In Water Safety!

Dr. Quan’s journey reminds us that the journey to comprehensive water safety is multifaceted, requiring not just expertise but heart. Her tireless work underscores the importance of data-driven solutions, the cornerstone of any effective preventative strategy. 

Yet, beyond the cold numbers lies an undying passion, a fervent belief that every life saved from drowning is a testament to the collective efforts of a community united in purpose.

Thank you for being a Water Safety Champion!

If you are making a difference in water safety and drowning prevention or know someone who has, we want to hear your story. 
Please take a moment to share the story on our website for a chance to be nationally recognized as a Water Safety Champion.

Water Safety Champion of the Month Mayor Melvin Carter

In Minnesota, a state lovingly referred to as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” the importance of water safety cannot be understated. It is here that Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, with his relentless drive and passion, has emerged as a beacon of change for water safety initiatives with the understanding that water competency should be a right, not a privilege.

Water is inviting, yet it poses a danger when not approached with the necessary skills and caution. Rooted in personal experiences and fueled by the collective needs of his community, Mayor Carter’s initiatives and proposed programs aim to ensure that every child, regardless of socioeconomic background, gains access to essential swimming lessons.

We are proud to announce our September Water Safety Champion of The Month, Mayor Melvin Carter.

Growing Up Surrounded by Water

Growing up, Mayor Carter, along with his siblings and friends, would often be found diving and swimming for hours at their local community center. It wasn’t just about fun; it was about community and culture. But today, many kids miss formal swimming lessons, largely due to the prohibitive costs. “Our youth deserve every opportunity to be successful, which involves eliminating barriers to learning,” he states.

This gap in access underscores why water safety has become a crucial issue for local governments.

The Need for Local Governments to Prioritize Water Safety

Water safety is paramount. Mayor Carter is steadfast in his belief that the local government’s primary role is to ensure the safety and well-being of its residents. When a study from the National Institute of Health highlighted that access to swimming lessons could nearly eradicate the chances of youth drowning, it became clear that more had to be done. By making swimming lessons free, not only can the safety of children be ensured, but it also addresses the socioeconomic disparities prevalent in many communities.

Water Safety Champion of the Month Mayor Melvin Carter

Proposing Free Swim Lessons for Children

Taking inspiration from the success of a previous initiative that eliminated participation fees for youth sports, Mayor Carter is proposing a significant $250,000 investment from the American Rescue Plan to fund free swimming lessons in city-owned pools. This ambitious initiative aims to cater to 2,500 youth under the age of 10 and instill a strong foundation of water safety and competency.

Although this initiative is still in its proposal phase, Mayor Carter has a powerful vision. The existing infrastructure, with instructors recruited from local high schools and classes held at sought-after locations like the Como Park Regional Pool and Highland Park Aquatic Center, lays a promising groundwork for the initiative.

Once the plan gains more clarity, a robust outreach effort involving the Parks and Recreation Department and local partners will take the front seat.

Water Safety Champion of the Month Mayor Melvin Carter

Water Competency For All

Equity and inclusivity are at the heart of the proposed plan. “When we say all children ages 10 and younger, we mean all children,” declares Mayor Carter. The Aquatics teams are equipped to accommodate youth of all abilities, ensuring that everyone has access to these life-saving lessons.

The Path Ahead 

While Mayor Carter is excited about the existing projects like lifeguard recruitment and safety outreach, he believes the community has a pivotal role to play. By becoming lifeguards or vocally supporting policies that further water safety, they can significantly impact these initiatives.

For local government leaders elsewhere, Mayor Carter’s message is simple yet impactful: sometimes, the most straightforward solutions can be the most effective. By removing barriers, such as cost, and fostering partnerships with schools and organizations, a ripple effect can be created, making communities safer and more inclusive.

Thank You For Making A Difference In Water Safety!

Water Safety Champion of the Month, Mayor Melvin Carter, and his dedication to water safety, combined with a commitment to equity, makes him an exemplar for local governments everywhere. In his eyes, water safety isn’t just about preventing accidents; it’s about building communities where every child, regardless of their background, has an opportunity to thrive.

Thank you, your honor, for being a Water Safety Champion!

If you are making a difference in water safety and drowning prevention or know someone who has, we want to hear your story. 
Please take a moment to share the story on our website for a chance to be nationally recognized as a Water Safety Champion.

When we send our children to school or summer camp, we rest assured that they will be kept safe from potential harm. After all, our educational institutions diligently teach our little ones about fire safety, regularly conduct lockdown drills, and have protocols for various emergencies. But there’s a glaring gap in this protective shield: water safety, which remains the number one killer of children ages 1-4.

Our latest Water Safety Champion, Kori Delapeña, is a fierce advocate for water safety education in childcare facilities. After tragedy struck her home, rather than being consumed by grief, she channeled her pain into purpose, embarking on a mission to ensure no other parent would have to endure such a loss.

While many safety measures have been embedded into our schooling systems, the silence around water safety is deafening. But with a Water Safety Champion of the month like Kori leading the charge, there’s hope that this oversight will soon be a thing of the past.

A Moment That Defined A Lifetime

Kori’s world was shattered when her six-year-old daughter, Cati,  tragically drowned under the care of a summer camp. Cati had been born with Down syndrome, and so, her parents took many precautions, including those around water. 

Aware of the challenges posed by their daughter’s diagnosis, they prioritized physical and occupational therapies needed for daily functions over swimming. Kori acknowledged that while they maintained general water safety norms, such as ensuring life jackets at the beach or pools, the intricacies of water safety were something they were largely unaware of. Kori lamented that vital water safety information was conspicuously absent from pediatricians and daycare providers, stating, “I wish somebody would have put fear in me.”

With Cati’s unique needs in mind, Kori extensively researched summer camps to ensure her daughter’s safety. After finding High Hopes camp, which had high marking reviews, she communicated Cati’s challenges and was reassured about her safety at the pool. The camp’s reassurances, however, proved hollow, and tragedy struck.

Kori’s story highlights a gap in our system. It begs for more substantial water safety measures for children attending pool activities under the care of a licensed childcare organization such as camps or schools. She also recommends parents always conduct thorough checks of any institution’s licensing and history through the state’s licensing websites as a proactive measure for protecting their child’s wellbeing.

Live Like Cati

In the face of unimaginable loss, Kori and her husband, John, founded Live Like Cati. Armed with grief and passion, the two set out to ensure that no parent in the state of Texas ever suffers loss as they did.

Live Like Cati has spearheaded efforts to teach water safety across Texas summer camps, provide life jackets for free, and train camp staff comprehensively. A whopping 1800 hours of training and over 1600 life jackets delivered attests to their dedication and desire to see safety at the forefront.

Educate, Advocate, Legislate

With a glaring void in water safety training within childcare facilities, Kori was propelled into the legislative arena, realizing the weight of her mission after a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigator named Angel advised her on this course. She discovered that drowning is the number one cause of death for children under 5 in the nation, and yet there was absolutely no training or language about drowning prevention in the child administration code. She found this alarming as childcare ratios are high, and when it involves water activities, the risk factor heightens. 

They’ve collaborated with the likes of Colin’s Hope and the Health and Human Services Department, and come September 1st, Texas will see the introduction of HB59– Cati’s Law. The law mandates childcare organizations to verify swimming capabilities and ensure non-swimmers wear USCG life jackets before entering the gates of a pool.

“It wasn’t just about Cati. It was about every child and parent,” 

Kori reflects, underscoring her drive to protect all children. Through legislative efforts, Kori hopes to establish systems that will incentivize childcare providers to prioritize water safety. Research supports her approach, showing that financial penalties or legal consequences can drive behavioral change.

Thank You For Making A Difference In Water Safety!

Kori’s journey from grieving mother to Water Safety Champion is a testament to her resilience and determination. Partnering with many drowning prevention organizations and getting the backing of Texas legislators, she’s been able to bring about tangible changes that will protect children and ease the minds of parents and caregivers. 

Her advocacy serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of water safety education and the critical role each one of us plays in preventing such tragedies through legislation.

Thank you for being a Water Safety Champion!

If you are making a difference in water safety and drowning prevention or know someone who has, we want to hear your story. 

Please take a moment to share the story on our website for a chance to be nationally recognized as a Water Safety Champion.

Every year, numerous drowning incidents occur, claiming the lives of both children and adults. However, there is a particular concern when it comes to individuals with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The risks associated with water safety for those with ASD are often overlooked and misunderstood, leading to tragic outcomes.

Our July Water Safety Champion is mother to a person with Autism and a passionate advocate for water safety initiatives for persons with Autism.

We are honored to celebrate our July Water Safety Champion of the Month, Stacey Hoaglund!

Finding the Courage To Be the Voice of a Movement

Stacey’s son was diagnosed with Autism at a young age. Early on, she prioritized water safety and ensured that both of her children received swim lessons. But it wasn’t until 2018, when she and her son were on a trip to Washington, that she came across a news broadcast from Florida about a child with Autism who tragically drowned. 

Stacey admits that for years she expected others in the Autism community to take the lead, but after years of silence, she realized she needed to be the voice. 

Her water safety advocacy journey started by reaching out to a friend who was a lobbyist in her state, who connected her with two women leading movements in South Florida, both who worked for the Department of Health and both who had lost children to drowning. Their lived experiences and determination ignited a sense of purpose within her.

Overcoming Challenges and Misinformation

When she first stepped into the water safety space, Stacey noted that the lack of information and awareness regarding water safety and individuals with Autism was a grave concern.

According to available data, 50 drowning incidents have been recorded in 2023, and of those, 8 individuals had been diagnosed with Autism and wandered away from home. Wandering is a significant risk for those with Autism and can lead to emergency situations, like drowning.

One of the challenges Stacey found on her journey was that pediatricians and teachers lacked information regarding water safety. Parents of children with Autism often find themselves needing guidance on preventive measures or the importance of swim lessons for their children. In some cases, they may prioritize therapies over swim lessons, particularly if their child has communication difficulties. This information gap leaves children with Autism vulnerable to water-related accidents.

Drowning Prevention Strategies and Advocacy Efforts

Autism presents unique challenges, particularly when it comes to generalizing skills. Children may learn to swim in a specific setting, but they may struggle to apply those skills in different environments. The reliance on water wings can also create a false sense of security, as individuals with Autism may mistakenly assume they can float in any body of water.

Stacey notes that many times, swim instructors are trained in teaching neuro-typical children to swim but do not have experience or understanding of children who have Autism or other developmental disabilities. Many families are hesitant to enroll their children with special needs in swim lessons due to the lack of knowledge of teaching techniques. Recognizing this barrier, efforts have been made to provide resources and training to water safety instructors to ensure they are equipped to teach individuals with Autism effectively. The Autism Society of Florida has also sought funding to support swim lessons for individuals with Autism who may not be able to afford swim lessons.

As a resource, the Autism Society of Florida, where Stacey is President, runs a program that trains parents of children with disabilities, including Autism, on how to advocate for systems change. She has also collaborated with organizations and lawmakers to raise awareness and implement effective drowning prevention strategies for parents of children with Autism. Most recently, Senator Anna Maria Rodriguez from Miami has confirmed her legislative support for the drowning prevention of children with Autism in Florida.

Making an Impact on Legislation and Community Outreach

While progress has been made in advocating for water safety, there is still room for improvement. One crucial aspect that requires attention is raising awareness.

Marketing campaigns should be more aggressive, emphasizing the importance of active supervision and vigilance when it comes to water safety. Additionally, school systems play a vital role in disseminating information on drowning prevention, and initiatives like the “Every Child a Swimmer” legislation of 2021 can contribute significantly to reducing drowning incidents.

Engaging the community is crucial to the success of any initiative. Throughout her time as an advocate, Stacey has formed relationships with various stakeholders, including schools, fire chiefs, and organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Surgeon General. These collaborations allow for policy work and the dissemination of information to the broader community. Support groups for parents and families also provide a platform for sharing experiences, concerns, and water safety resources.

More work is needed to bridge the information gap, provide accessible resources, and engage the community to ensure that water safety programs are in place for individuals with Autism. Through collective efforts, we can strive towards a world where every individual, regardless of their abilities, can safely enjoy aquatic activities and prevent tragic accidents.

Thank You For Making A Difference In Water Safety!

Water safety is a pressing issue, especially for individuals with Autism, who face unique challenges and risks. Thank you, Stacey, for the strides you’ve made in reducing drowning incidents among this vulnerable population!

Thank you for being a Water Safety Champion!

If you are making a difference in water safety and drowning prevention or know someone who has, we want to hear your story. 
Please take a moment to share the story on our website for a chance to be nationally recognized as a Water Safety Champion.

When it comes to water safety – unity and education are vital to further reduce the number of drownings. There is nothing more inspiring than listening to seasoned water safety champions like Greg Louganis inspire the next generation, such as Matthew Struble, to advocate for the best water safety strategies and to bring generations together to solve the drowning epidemic.

We are thrilled to celebrate our June Water Safety Champions of the Month, Greg Louganis and Matthew Struble!

Why Being a Water Safety Champion is Important to Drowning Prevention:

Water Safety Champions play a crucial role in raising awareness about the importance of water safety practices and are passionate about educating others about staying safe in and around water. We’ve created the Water Safety Champion program to provide resources, tools, and education to drive awareness and help prevent drownings and aquatic injuries.

Becoming a Water Safety Champion means being a part of a national movement that is focused on reducing the amount of water-related tragedies by doing things such as community outreach, social activism, program development, and water safety education.

Without people like Greg and Matthew, we would undoubtedly face a much larger problem when it comes to water-related tragedies. Their efforts and dedication make a significant impact on raising awareness, educating the public, and implementing safety measures in various aquatic environments.

Greg Louganis– From Olympic Champion to Water Safety Champion

Following his retirement from competitive diving, four-time Olympic gold-medal diver, Greg Louganis, channeled his passion for water into becoming a champion for the cause. Having experienced the risks and dangers associated with water firsthand, he dedicated himself to promoting drowning prevention and educating individuals o water safety practices.

Louganis has worked with numerous organizations, including the USA Diving Foundation, USA Water Polo, and the Red Cross, to raise awareness and provide resources for water safety education. He has conducted clinics, speaking engagements, and demonstrations to help prevent drowning incidents and promote responsible water activities.

As drowning risks are so high for children ages 1-4, parents and caregivers are perceived as being responsible for preventing further drownings. 

This is simply not true. Every single person is susceptible to drowning, regardless of their swimming ability. Accidents can happen to anyone, and it takes everyone working together in order to prevent further tragedy due to drowning. 

Together, Greg and Matthew are changing the landscape of what it looks like to be an advocate for water safety!

Matthew Struble: One of Our Youngest Water Safety Champions!

Matthew’s town had local programs for mental health but none for water safety. 

Living in Florida, where there are pools and natural bodies of water at every corner, it became a major concern for him. To help fill this gap, Matthew used his senior project to organize a program that taught school-aged children the importance of implementing and learning the 5 Layers of Protection, focusing on how children can learn to be prepared in the case of a water emergency. 

“I grew up around water, and I know first-hand how important it is to understand both the benefits and the potential dangers, whether it’s a pool, beach, or even a water park.”

As an avid swimmer since the age of 5 and a Red Cross certified Water Safety Instructor, Matthew leveraged his knowledge and experience to create this life-changing program for young children. Brevard County is now considering Matthew’s program for use in local schools throughout the area.

During his senior class awards night, Matthew was presented with the Water Safety Champion medal and spoke with Greg over Zoom about this incredible honor. 

We look forward to watching Matthew’s incredible journey unfold. We know the positive impact he will undoubtedly have on communities, using his knowledge and passion to uplift and empower those around him. Congratulations on this exciting new chapter, and we can’t wait to see what happens next! 

Thank You For Making A Difference In Water Safety!

It takes courage to stand up for what you believe in, but Greg and Matthew prove that anything is possible if you have the drive and determination to succeed. They are an inspiration to us all, reminding us that we can make a difference no matter who we are or where we come from.

Thank you for being Water Safety Champions!

If you are making a difference in water safety and drowning prevention or know someone who has, we want to hear your story. 
Please take a moment to share the story on our website for a chance to be nationally recognized as a Water Safety Champion.

CAST water safety foundation Liz Huber

When you become a parent, you quickly realize that your new goal in life is to make sure that your children’s lives are full of new experiences that lead them to discover their best selves. For Liz Huber, CAST Water Safety Foundation Founder & Director, her children’s experience with self-rescue lessons led her to pursue her own path of water safety education by becoming a certified ISR self-rescue instructor and founding the CAST Water Safety Foundation.

As an educator with a background in business and philanthropy, Liz saw an opportunity for each of her passions to be fused together for an even greater purpose.

“Self-rescue swim lessons were the most empowering thing that ever happened to our family. I wanted to share that empowerment with others.”

We are thrilled to celebrate Liz Huber as our Water Safety Champion of the Month this May!

Liz’s Introduction to the Aquatics Industry

Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago and having a pool in her backyard made Liz a strong swimmer by the time she was 4 years old. As a parent today, she knew teaching children to swim at an early age would make them safer, and set a goal for her own children to learn by the age of 3.

With this goal in mind, she went on her search but struggled to find a local swim program that was highly respected while providing the result of teaching kids under 5 to be competent in the water.

Finally, while on vacation, she came across a family that told her about ISR self-rescue lessons, and to Liz, this was the perfect fit for safeguarding her water-loving babies.

She enrolled her daughters in ISR self-rescue lessons and noticed a significant difference in their overall quality of life as a result. Her children slept better, ate better, had better interpersonal relationships, and hit long-awaited physical milestones, leaving them with a deep sense of empowerment.

On that basis alone, Liz realized the lessons were worth it. However, it wasn’t until she became a licensed instructor at her daughter’s swim school that she understood the most critical piece of water competency—drowning prevention.

As an instructor, she had the opportunity to speak to another mom, Katie Trent, whom she met while her daughter was in self-rescue lessons. Unfortunately, Liz soon discovered she had lost her daughter in a tragic drowning accident.

A simple statement from Katie would echo in Liz’s heart for years to come, “How did you learn about these lessons before losing a child? The only reason I’m here is because my daughter is gone.”

A Moment Becomes an Opportunity

No one should have to experience the gravity of such a loss, so Liz took it upon herself to learn everything she could about safer swimming initiatives during the pandemic. Realizing how much education goes into keeping a child under five safe around water, she began to craft a new approach to water safety education.

As a former elementary educator, she understood that in any case (development, education, emotional intelligence, etc.), benchmarks change with age. This understanding led her to make the following decision: CAST would customize their lessons to how a child under 5 learns while tracking the data of the biggest risk factors for their age group.

The CAST Water Safety Foundation facilitates swim safety education. Their approach to water competency heavily focuses on education surrounding water, the risks, the benefits of competency, and the importance of guardian involvement in the learning process.

The children’s caretakers are actively involved in learning strategies for routines when entering the water, respect for water, and being in the water with your child. Caretaker involvement can help to ensure children are safe and skilled in aquatic environments, which can lead to a lifelong love of swimming and water-based activities. Additionally, guardians can also learn about the benefits of swimming for physical and mental health.

Self-rescue lessons are given to each child one-on-one at 10-minute weekly intervals. Program duration is up to 6 weeks or until instructors determine the child is “safe and skilled,” after which lessons are less frequent and done for maintenance.

They partner with a number of organizations and foundations, such as the 4 ANNA Foundation, the Live Like Jake Foundation, and Levi’s Legacy, bringing education and empowerment to families with the overall goal of creating “safer swimmers sooner.”

CAST-ing a Vision for the Future

Growth and expansion are on the horizon for this small but mighty organization, which just reached its 500th swim scholarship, which helps minimize the cost of self-rescue lessons. They anticipate future growth by adding more scholarship partners with trusted and effective instructors who desire to give back and provide education to swim families.

Currently, they are partnered with 12 self-rescue swim instructors in the Chicago suburbs and cities throughout the U.S. The CAST team hopes to keep growing scholarship providers and further water safety education for families nationwide.

Liz’s biggest hope is that all swim schools, swim lesson providers, and advocates can unite and spread awareness under a common goal: customized education and instruction which will best safeguard children under five.

CAST remains a community pillar for educating parents of children under 5 on water safety and drowning prevention. In the future, they hope to partner with others that have the same mission but are focused on older children and teens, as well as organizations that are committed to

Water safety is a critical topic that cannot be overlooked, and the work of organizations like CAST Water Safety Foundation is an important part of initiatives that aim to save lives.

Thank You For Being A Water Safety Champion!

Liz Huber is a true Water Safety Champion who works tirelessly to educate people on water safety and drowning prevention initiatives. Her dedication and passion for water competency are an inspiration to us all to take the necessary precautions and make water activities safer for everyone.

Thank you for being a Water Safety Champion, Liz Huber!

If you are making a difference in water safety and drowning prevention or know someone who has, we want to hear your story. 

Please take a moment to share the story on our website for a chance to be nationally recognized as a Water Safety Champion.

Trish Miller of SwemKids

Often, some of our most painful stories become our greatest triumphs. Trish Miller, the founder of SwemKids, took a terrifying near-drowning experience and turned it into a life-changing program for children in communities of color. 

As she got older and progressed in her career in public health, Trish determined that swim classes should be more accessible to children in the Black community who may not otherwise have the opportunity to gain these life-saving skills. 

We are thrilled to celebrate Trish Miller as our Water Safety Champion of the Month this April!

The Moment That Changed Trish Miller’s Life

Though she grew up in proximity to a beach, Trish Miller hadn’t actually been to one until she was 16 years old. She admits she was not exposed to water safety until later in elementary school when her class was taken to the local pool for 2 weeks of swimming instruction.  

Trish states, “I was the only black child in class, and the instructors could not understand why I was so afraid of the water.” 

Due to cultural differences and presuppositions, it was difficult for her to engage in the instruction of swimming. It was her first time in a pool that size, and she was too afraid to continue. The instructors didn’t pressure her and seemed to be disconnected from her experience as a young black girl. 

When she went to college, things began to take a turn. Some friends had invited her to go swimming, promising they’d teach her. After spending some time in the water, Trish’s friends encouraged her to jump into the deeper end of the pool. 

She felt confident enough in her ability to swim and walked to the edge of the pool that read 12ft. She jumped in and quickly realized she was not ready. 

In a moment of panic, she began to swallow water and nearly drowned before she was pulled out by one of her friends. 

This was a formative experience for her and shaped her entire future, Trish states, It became my mission to do something about these devastating statistics because I almost became one. That is how SwemKids was born.”

Learning the Tragic Drowning Statistics for People of Color

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the drowning death rates for Black people are 1.5 times higher than the death rates for White people. The disparities are highest among Black children ages 5-9, (rates 2.6 times higher) and ages 10-14 (rates 3.6 times higher). 

“As I continued to progress in my career, I started to become aware that my story was not unique, that nearly 70% of Black people do not know how to swim well”, states Miller. 

Once she started her work in public health, Trish discovered that there are a lot of historical generalizations that led to her family’s mindset. She felt that representation needed to change and communities of color needed to be shown as professionals in the water. 

Trish states, “There needed to be intentionality behind showing them in the water in order to adjust beliefs around water safety. You are never too old to learn how to swim, in fact, I swam my first lap in 2019 at just over 40 years old.”

Introducing The Freedom of Swimming through SwemKids

With the goal to educate and empower the black community to nurture a healthy relationship with water, Trish began her mission, and in 2017, SwemKids was born. “It’s actually spelled S-W-E-M. Which is an ode to Afrikaans, that dialect, to change that dynamic.” 

SwemKids is a non-profit program that teaches introductory swimming lessons and water safety skills to communities that experience the highest rates of drownings. Instructors in the SwemKids facility are diverse aquatics professionals from the communities they serve.

“We can only do this work by partnering with people in our community, states Trish Miller. 

Trish and her organization work hard to partner with local school districts and offer scholarships to schools and groups dedicated to empowering people of color.  

Some notable organizations that Swemkids have partnered with include the Boys and Girls Club of America, 100 Black Men of America, and Mocha Moms Inc.

“We save lives. We are welcoming people to a space that they historically have been excluded from. We celebrate every first lap and every big jump. We are welcoming people back to the freedom and the love of water.” 

Thank You For Making A Difference in Water Safety

Trish Miller is truly a trailblazer in the world of water safety education. Her dedication to the cause and her community has made a lasting impact, and her legacy will continue to inspire generations to come. 

The NDPA is honored to present this accolade for Trish’s passion and dedication to making water safety more accessible to underrepresented communities. 

Thank you for being a Water Safety Champion, Trish Miller!

If you are making a difference in water safety and drowning prevention or know someone who has, we want to hear your story. 

Please take a moment to share the story on our website for a chance to be nationally recognized as a Water Safety Champion.


Our Water Safety Champions are the people that go above and beyond in their communities to focus on water safety and drowning prevention, which is why it’s so important that we recognize and celebrate those that champion water safety every day!

We are thrilled to celebrate Bill Ramos as our Water Safety Champion of the Month this March!

About William (Bill) Ramos

Bill Ramos is an incredible aquatic and water safety community member as a researcher, leader, and service provider. Bill is an associate professor at Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington and Director of the Indiana University Aquatics Institute

Internationally respected in aquatics with an excellent aquatic, water safety, and drowning prevention research resume, Bill is the chair of the aquatic sub-council of the Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council. He has also been a vital member of the U.S. National Water Safety Action Plan.

Growing Up On Lake Michigan

Bill grew up in Gary, Indiana, and still loves his hometown working with city leadership on aquatic risk management.

Gary, IN, is located on the southern tip of Lake Michigan and is home to several beaches, local parks, and, most famously, The Jackson Five!

Bill grew up being on the water and gained a love for all things aquatic. As a teen, he joined his local swim team and later became a lifeguard on Lake Michigan. 

Being a lifeguard during his summers, he was part of several rescues. But, sadly, even with the many rescues in his repertoire, he witnessed firsthand the tragic results of a drowning accident. 

At that moment, it became clear to Bill that drowning was preventable. He knew there were ways to educate and advocate for the public on this problem. 

Because of Bill’s love of aquatics, he obtained degrees in Parks & Recreation Administration and then a Ph.D. in Leisure Behavior. He worked in the areas of aquatic management and swim coaching until later becoming a professor at Indiana University.

Throughout his career, he shares his love of water and actively advocates for people to engage with the water. He feels that being in and around water is fun and should be enjoyed by everyone. 

Bill emphasizes that drowning is a preventable tragedy and that if we work together, we can empower people everywhere to engage with water safely. 

The Joys of Water

Bill works locally, nationally, and internationally to help everyone have the knowledge and skills to engage in water activities safely.

Water can be an enjoyable outlet, even with therapeutic benefits. Yet, some people still don’t have access to water or are afraid to engage in aquatic-based activities due to the lack of opportunity to learn to swim in their communities.

Bill is currently working with the Miller Beach Water Safety Group to provide drowning prevention education, life jacket loners, and water safety stations throughout Miller Beach, Indiana.

Thank You For Making A Difference!

Without Water Safety Champions like Bill Ramos, Robin Taylor, and David Albornoz, we couldn’t change the numbers and continue educating about the best water safety practices and strategies. 

The NDPA is honored to present this accolade for Bill’s hard work and passion for his community.

Thank you for being a Water Safety Champion, Bill Ramos!

If you are making a difference in water safety and drowning prevention or know someone who has, we want to hear your story. 

Please take a moment to share the story on our website for a chance to be nationally recognized as a Water Safety Champion.


The aquatics industry has impacted so many lives, and for the past 21 years at the Brigantine Aquatic Center, Robin Taylor has advocated water safety for hundreds of children in the Atlantic City Area.  

We are thrilled to celebrate Robin Taylor as our Water Safety Champion of the Month this February!

Robin’s Career Progression in the Aquatics Industry

Robin’s Career in aquatics started when she became a parent to her daughter in 1976. Robin knew of the statistics around drowning when her daughter was still an infant.

 “I didn’t want her to be a statistic. I knew there was something that could prevent her from becoming one of the numbers, and I started her in swimming lessons when she was a baby.” 

After a while, swimming classes for her daughter became costly, which opened her up to volunteer for what is now the Ocean County YMCA, where she eventually became the head instructor for Red Cross CPR & First Aid and the first to complete a new state paramedic program at the Community Hospital of Toms River.

Robin states, “When you start teaching one person, you realize how much difference you can make and all the lives you touch with something as simple as teaching a child how to float.”

After many years of success, Robin took a temporary leave from the aquatics industry but continued to contribute to her community in any way she could, eventually fundraising over $1 million for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

How Robin Started the Brigantine Aquatic Center

The opening of the Brigantine Aquatic Center all started with the question of where the young children of Brigantine, NJ, could receive swimming lessons. 

“I remember going to a local dance recital with my sister, and I had asked her where the kids went for swimming lessons, and she said “There’s not a place around here built for that,” and I simply responded, ‘Well, we should build one,” states Robin.

“They laughed when I mentioned it, but I was set out to build an aquatic center to share the passion I had for swimming with others.” 

The Brigantine Aquatic Center was then opened in 2001, where Robin currently owns and mentors her aquatic teachers with her husband, daughter, and niece. It is now the home of a wide range of swim programs that has taught more than 7,500 children and is the home of the GreenHeads Swimming Team, a Special Olympics Swim Team, and a Master’s Team. 

Additionally, Robin is deeply involved with the Atlantic City community in which she launched Green Whales Inc, a non-profit that funds program’s like Whelan’s Whales, Greenheads Swimming, and Stanley’s Special Friends to support free swimming programs for inner-city youth.

Thank You For Making a Difference in Water Safety!

Without Robin’s help, many children in the Atlantic City Area would not have had the opportunity to learn how to swim and find passion within the aquatics industry. Her impact in her community has launched countless scholarships, donations, and funding opportunities for children to get involved in swimming.

Her approach to water safety is very hands-on, and she strives to continue to make water safety education and swimming available for every child in New Jersey with the help of more water safety legislation.

As a founding member of the New Jersey Swim Safety Alliance, she is currently working towards passing Bill A618, which requires school districts to provide water safety instruction as part of New Jersey’s Student Learning Standards for Comprehensive Health and Physical Education in grades Kindergarten through 12. 

“Children and parents need the information to protect themselves in the water,” Robin states, “No parent wants their child to become a tragic statistic.”

The NDPA is honored to present this accolade for Robin’s hard work and passion for her community.

Thank you for being a Water Safety Champion, Robin Taylor!

If you are making a difference in water safety and drowning prevention or know someone who has, we want to hear your story. 

Please take a moment to share the story on our website for a chance to be nationally recognized as a Water Safety Champion.