Press Release

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20) Receives Lighthouse Award and Becomes the Water Safety Champion at the National Water Safety Conference

After record breaking drowning numbers last year, aquatics professionals, public health and safety officials, parents and federal representatives came together to share strategic ideas and to rally support for the reauthorization of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGB Act).

Ft. Worth, TX— April 15, 2022 — Over 300 engaged water safety advocates came together, in person and virtually, at the 21st annual National Water Safety Conference presented by the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA). This annual event is the gathering place of multiple different sectors, stakeholders, and advocates who believe “Drowning IS Preventable.” The highlight of the week was a live Q&A session with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric. After the session, Nancy Baker, who’s daughter the act was named after, officially made them Water Safety Champions, the NDPA’s new national water safety awareness campaign launching this summer.

“As we head into the summer months and families get ready to take their kids to the pool, we must remember the layers of protection and ensure that pools and spas have proper safety equipment,” said Rep. Wasserman Schultz. “This is why I became a Water Safety Champion and so can you.”

The four-day conference featured over 80 sessions ranging from trainings, workshops, educational sessions, town-hall events and live Q&A interactions with high level government officials and experts. NDPA hosted three virtual conferences during the pandemic, but this was their first in person conference since 2019. Everyone in attendance was excited to be united again and ready to collaborate on their plans to stop the silent epidemic of drowning.

“I hear ‘I didn’t know’ from families of fatal and non-fatal drowning victims all the time. This is the phrase that haunts me and every person in the water safety space,” said Dr. Adam Katchmarchi, Executive Director of the NDPA. “The goal of the Water Safety Champion campaign is to achieve maximum awareness of the tools to prevent drowning and to never hear ‘I didn’t know’ from another parent again.”

Notable highlights of the week include:

    • “Pushing Beyond the Pain”
      At the age of 19, Richard Miles, was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to 60 years in the Texas Prison System. For 15 years, he found himself submerged in hurt, pain, loneliness, and anger. After his release, he founded, Miles of Freedom where he hopes to share the tools he found to push through the pain into freedom. Richard believes that, “We are all equipped to deal with life’s challenges and come out better, Pushing Beyond the Pain.”
    • “The Prevention of Child Drowning
      Dr.Ben Hoffman, M.D., CPST-I, FAAP, Professor of Pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University Drowning remains a leading cause of death for children and adolescents. Evidence-based approaches to drowning prevention are essential to help protect kids and families. Pediatricians and other health providers can be powerful allies. Learn what we know about the epidemiology and the role of the American Academy of Pediatrics in the development and dissemination of evidence-based policy and advocacy to prevent child drowning.
    • “Drowning In Silence”
      A special viewing of the documentary film entitled “Drowning In Silence” produced by Chezik Tsunoda, a mother who lost her son to drowning. The documentary shows Tsunoda’s journey from grief to an effort to stop the preventable tragedy of drowning from happening to other families. In the film she interviews families, physicians and water safety experts and advocates. The film premiered at the Toronto Women’s International Film Festival.
    • “The Turning Point – The Moment When Tragedy Becomes Action”
      Families United to Prevent Drowning Each member of Families United to Prevent Drowning decided to turn their grief to action–tragedy to hopeful triumph. We call it the “Turning Point”. That moment when a parent, grandparent, sibling or other loved one decides that enough is enough– “Not One More” drowning or water injury or death. Let’s together learn what motivated these selfless families to use their personal stories to make a difference and, more importantly, how you can join the effort to help the movement.
    • “The Anatomy of a Pool Case”
      Michael Haggard, The Haggard Law Firm As we all know, when a loved one is catastrophically injured or dies due to drowning, it changes the lives of everyone personally or professionally related to the victim. There are many avenues a person or family can take after a drowning or non-fatal drowning has occurred. Establishing foundations, lobbying for legislation, or a less followed path, filing a civil lawsuit. In this demonstrative and informative presentation, Michael Haggard will walk attendees through “The Anatomy of a Pool Case.” From the initial investigation, all the way through trial, Haggard will educate guests on the legal process and how it ultimately brings about change, so that others won’t endure the tragedy these families have faced.

The event was hosted by The National Drowning Prevention Alliance at The Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel.

Event sponsors this year include:

The ZAC Foundation, D&D Technologies, cvent, Families United to Prevent Drowning, Independent Pool & Spa Service Professionals Association, Michael Phelps Foundation, The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance, Endless Pools, JCMF Children’s Charities, Ms. Tristan Foundation, The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson and The Fence Group.


For lifesaving statistics, share ready social media tools and general information click here for the NDPA Resource Center


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About the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act

Rep. Wasserman Schultz has been involved in drowning prevention and pool and spa safety throughout her career and worked hard to pass her legislation, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, which was signed into law in December 2007. This was the first federal pool and spa safety legislation signed into law in our nation’s history, requiring all public pools and spas to have safety drain covers, and in certain circumstances, an anti-entrapment system. The goal of the law is to improve the safety of all pools and spas by increasing the use of layers of protection and promoting uninterrupted supervision to prevent child drowning and entrapment.

About The NDPA

The National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) is a 501C3 nonprofit organization of stakeholders, advocates, families and members in many different sectors of aquatics, water safety, public health and prevention. Established in 2001, the NDPA’s mission is “United, we can prevent the tragedy of drowning.” The NDPA provides resources, education and an engaged and respectful community where ALL stakeholders come together to collaborate on solutions to reduce the incidence of drowning and aquatic injuries in the US and abroad. Join us to help save lives!

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Rosalie Martin
Press & Media Contact
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