, ,

Water Safety Champion of The Month: Rowdy Gaines


Starting swimming lessons early not only equips children with critical life-saving skills but can also inspire them toward future achievements, both in and out of the pool. 

Rowdy Gaines transformed his passion for swimming into a lifelong commitment to water safety and excellence. As a three-time Olympic gold medalist and renowned commentator, Gaines is a prominent figure in the swimming world, and his journey transcends far beyond his personal achievements. 

We are proud to announce our May 2024 Water Safety Champion of The Month, Rowdy Gaines.


From Competitive Swimmer to Water Safety Advocate

Rowdy Gaines, born and raised in Florida—a state where water is prevalent and a large part of the culture—grew up by the lake, and his family’s involvement in water sports ingrained in him a deep love for swimming.

It was this love that drove him to excel in the sport even when he started competitive swimming relatively late at the age of 17. His rapid rise from a novice to a world record holder is nothing short of remarkable, but what truly sets Rowdy apart is how he has leveraged his success to impact water safety positively.

Rowdy’s journey from a late-start competitive swimmer to a three-time Olympic gold medalist is not just a story of athletic ability, but also of profound dedication to water safety. His achievements in the pool have given him a platform, and he uses it passionately to advocate for drowning prevention.

Championing Water Safety

Rowdy’s commitment to water safety became more pronounced following his competitive days. Recognizing the high rates of drowning, particularly in states like Florida, he saw an urgent need to promote water safety education. Gaines has worked extensively to increase awareness about the importance of learning to swim and implementing safety measures around water bodies.

His involvement with organizations like the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) has allowed him to reach a wider audience, from local communities to national platforms. Rowdy emphasizes the importance of barriers such as pool fencing and alarms, which prevent young children from unsupervised access to water—an advocacy inspired by his understanding of the risks posed by residential pools.

Educational Initiatives and Personal Mission

Rowdy’s approach is deeply personal. He believes that every child should have the joy of being safe in and around water—a joy that his family cherished and that he wishes for families everywhere. This belief drives his educational efforts, focusing on teaching not just children but also adults about the risks and preventive measures associated with water.

Through his public speaking, Gaines often shares personal stories and statistical data to underline the critical nature of water safety. He stresses that while water brings joy, it also demands respect and awareness, given the staggering number of drownings, especially among young children.

A Legacy Beyond the Pool

Today, as a celebrated figure in the water safety community, Rowdy Gaines continues to inspire and educate. His message is clear: water competency should be a fundamental skill taught from an early age, just as essential as any household safety measure. Through initiatives like the Step Into Swim and his ongoing work with NDPA, Rowdy aims to make drowning prevention a national priority, ensuring that the joy of water is not overshadowed by preventable tragedies.

Step Into Swim

In 2012, the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance started the Step Into Swim initiative with the intention of creating more competent swimmers. Rowdy Gaines leads the charge as the organization provides swim lessons to children in underserved communities. To date, Step Into Swim has raised funds for swimming lessons for more than 300,000 children. NDPA is proud to partner with Step Into Swim on an annual basis to further the impact of water safety and drowning prevention efforts.

Thank You For Making A Difference In Water Safety!

Rowdy Gaines exemplifies how a champion’s influence can extend beyond their sport, impacting lives in profound ways. His legacy in the pool is matched by his commitment to ensuring that every family understands the importance of water safety, making him a true champion both in and out of the water.

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.