Another year has passed, and we can’t help but look forward to all that 2023 has to offer!
It is with great excitement that the NDPA finally launched our Water Safety Champion of the Month campaign to recognize the hard-working people that are making a difference in drowning prevention and water safety.
With drowning being the leading cause of death in children ages 1-4, we must acknowledge those that are doing their part to save lives by becoming Water Safety Champions.
By learning, advocating, and implementing the 5 Layers of Protection, these individuals are actively reducing the number of drownings every single day.
One of those individuals is our first-ever Water Safety Champion of the Month, Coach David Albornoz, of Como Park Pool in St. Paul, Minnesota!
David’s Unique Background in Aquatics
In his native country of Venezuela, David Albornoz began his career in aquatics as a beach lifeguard at age 15.
Growing up in a country with friends and family that were around water constantly, he became increasingly heartbroken when he realized how profound the issue of drowning was, especially when he moved to the United States in 2002.
“I had nightmares for the families that had to experience the loss of a child. And the worst part to me was that it was completely preventable. The sad reality is: there isn’t enough access to water safety education, especially for kids of color,” Albornoz states.
Coach David had the vision to prevent drownings and save lives, and in doing so, he continued lifeguarding during his pursual of a Master’s Degree in the Arts of International Law.
Eventually, he felt the pull to return to the aquatic industry and has been coaching, lifeguarding, and advocating water safety and drowning prevention for about 30 years.
How David Is Advocating Water Safety at Como Park Pool
A proud member of St. Paul’s community, Coach David promotes water safety efforts every day and continues to motivate high school students to pursue aquatic careers.
David’s approach to continuing water safety efforts makes a huge difference when inspiring young students to pursue a career path in aquatics during this time of lifeguard shortages.
“It’s never too late to form a connection, especially for marginalized youth. Because I look and sound more like a minority, I think it becomes more memorable and relatable to those that grew up in a different cultural background,” says Albornoz.
Beyond just having a diverse aquatic and cultural background, David has teamed up with many different groups in his community to prevent drowning. In the spring of 2022, a Minnesota-based charity run by Alison Petri, Abbey’s Hope Charitable Foundation, approached Coach David and his team to help spread water safety education in the public schools across their community.
“I’m not a planner,” Albornoz joked, “but I am an executor and your number one person on the ground. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to save lives. Tell me what to do, and I will do it”.
In his community outreach efforts, he has even started a program called Rec Check Program: Safe In The Water, which provides after-school care for youth opportunities to swim and receive water safety presentations to children for an hour and a half every week.
Using this weekly program, kids can stay safe both in and out of the water more consistently while encouraging them to become more active at the same time.
Thank You For Making a Difference!
We could have lost thousands of children to preventable drownings if David hadn’t worked tirelessly to prevent these tragedies. His impact in the community has made a profound impact not just in his community but on a national level.
His approach to water safety is incredibly proactive, uplifting, and positively contagious. The NDPA is honored to present this accolade for the hard work and the passion David brings to his daily life.
Thank you for being a Water Safety Champion, David Albornoz!
If you are making a difference 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 at ndpa.org/nominate-wsc/.