Several long-time aquatics professionals have come together to announce the formation of a new industry association.

The launch of the Association of Aquatic Professionals comes on the heels of the National Recreation and Park Association’s decision to end its stand-alone National Aquatic Conference. One goal of the AAP is to launch a new conference next year, said Farhad Madani, consultant, Aquatic Safety Experts LLC, who serves as executive director of the new group.

“The difference is going to be this group will be very inclusive; built for aquatic professionals by aquatic professionals,” Madani said. The goal is to build unity between all facets of the industry and provide a resource for those who haven’t been represented in existing organizations, he added.

The AAP is officially incorporated and established as a 501C3 nonprofit organization; board members have been named and planning is underway in a number of areas. The other AAP founding board members are: Juliene Hefter, founder and consultant, Safety First Aquatics, LLC, and Wisconsin Park & Recreation Association deputy director; Charles Logan, director, Texas Swim Center in Austin, Texas; Kathie Lueker, vice-president, Lincoln Equipment Inc., in Concord, Calif.; Kelly Schmidt, Anderson Mill Limited District parks & recreation director and president, owner, The Parks and Recreation Consortium, and lecturer-adjunct faculty at Texas State University; Stephanie Shook, senior associate with the American Red Cross; Mike Espino, aquatics safety and risk specialist at YMCA of the USA; and Terri Smith, designer, Water Design, Inc., Salt Lake City. Many have held leadership positions with NRPA and the NAC.

“We’ve got some pretty big goals,” said Smith, who was head of the NAC planning committee.

Other plans include work on advocacy and research, which eventually will lead to creation of a curriculum for certifications.

Formation of the new association comes after months of dissatisfaction with NRPA. It started last summer when NRPA decided to do away with its branch structure in favor of networks. Then in the fall, disagreements with NRPA about education and its aquatic show led Smith and others on the AAP Board of Directors to resign their positions with the NAC.

“We want to provide a home for those aquatic professionals that maybe weren’t being served before, or maybe are saying ‘where do we go now?’” Smith said.

Charter AAP memberships are now available to the first 100 for $40. Regular membership is $30 and there is an agency rate of $25 for additional members from the same organization. Student membership is $20. For more information email farhad@associationofaquaticprofessionals.org