Having seen the worst in the industry, Alison Osinski is in a unique position to bring out its best. “Because I do a lot of expert witness work, I see what can go wrong. And I’m horrified by what I see,” says Osinski, owner of Aquatic Consulting Services in San Diego. “You would think they would learn from each other. But that sharing of information is not occurring.”
It’s not for lack of effort on Osinski’s part. If the name sounds familiar — and unless you’re new or live under a rock, it should — it’s because Osinski has made it her life’s work to make sure you know what you’re doing. She’s on the educational advisory board of the National Swimming Pool Foundation and the standards review committee for the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals; she’s an instructor for both organizations. She’s also an advisor to the Aquatic Therapy & Rehabilitation Institute and the United States Swim School Association.
Ask her why she’s so concerned about education and you’ll hear her characteristically sunny voice turn a little sour.“I’ve had workshops where someone who’s been in the business for 25 years will raise a hand and say, ‘You mean you have to put chemicals in the spa too?’” she recounts. “I’m not saying everyone has to have the highest level of education, but some introductory minimum competencies would be a good thing.”
Osinski, 50, took her own advice a long time ago. Back in 1972, she majored in aquatics before eventually getting her Ph.D. Before switching to consulting full-time in 1988, she worked in just about every field of aquatics from lifeguard to pool maintenance worker to aquatics director.
Why so many jobs? The simple answer is that she loves water, always has. It’s that love that drives Osinski — and makes her want to give the industry a little tough love of her own. “The industry should really push for required licensing and education,” she says. “The only way we can get rid of the people who don’t know what they’re doing is to have some kind of test. It hurts us that so many people don’t know what they’re doing.”