Typically, journalists are skeptics by nature.
I’m no exception. So when a group of industry
professionals announced their intention to start an
aquatics-specific trade association and conference, I admit
I was a bit skeptical.
After all, this isn’t the first time the idea
had been tried. Back in 2003 another group of high-profile
aquatics leaders attempted to create the National Aquatics
Coalition, aka the Council for National Cooperation in
Aquatics. The group had big dreams about what a united
aquatics industry could accomplish, dreams that promised to
raise the prominence, professionalism and perception of
Sadly, those dreams never came to fruition for the same
reason challenging this latest venture: Aquatics is a
fractured industry. Just imagine a group of educational,
municipal, private, semipublic, for-profits and nonprofits
finding common ground. Throw in the turf wars going on
among certification and training agencies and
you’ve got an industry at war with itself,
including all the casualties that go with it.
Can’t we all just get along?
The Association of Aquatic Professionals says,
“Yes, we can.” See our news story If its
inaugural conference is any indication, the group may have
finally discovered the secret sauce that allows all of
aquatics’ disparate entities to at long last come
together in one big melting pot. Everyone who attended that
show seems to agree it exceeded expectations, and more than
filled the hole left from the National Recreation and Park
Association’s decision to abandon the National
Aquatic Conference (yet another example of an aquatics
group failing to gel).
Skeptical as I am, I’m willing to bet that AOAP
may be able to do what others have not for two main
reasons. First, the core group is more dedicated and
passionate than just about anyone in aquatics right
Second, the organization recognizes that the only way to
be an aquatics association is to welcome every color and
stripe of aquatics professional into its fold —
including the territorial training and certification
Still, passion and philosophy will only get AOAP so far.
What it really needs is you. What the group really needs
— what we all really need — is for the
industry to come together.