Aquatic safety would not be quite what it is today without Aquatic safety would not be quite what it is today without Mike Espino. As the aquatics safety and risk specialist at YMCA of the USA, he is responsible for the well-being of perhaps thousands of pool patrons. Prior to his current role, Espino spent 16 years overseeing all aquatics training as manager of aquatics technical development at the American Red Cro
In both positions, he’s helped shape the foundation of
aquatic safety policies and best practices, and worked to build
partnerships and create synergy among
leading aquatic authorities.
Growing up in Central California, Espino hoped to one day become an
aerospace engineer, but he found his love of aquatics early. He was
a competitive swimmer
in high school and a lifeguard. After attending the University of Tennessee
he landed a job as an aquatics director in Lauderhill, Fla., and
later as director of health and safety at the Santa Barbara County
“I always liked guard training and management and found
safety to be a new challenge,” he says of the move out of
day-to-day operations management.
Espino’s passion for this aspect of the business is obvious
in his accomplishments at the YMCA. The association’s goal is
zero deaths by drowning, he says “There was a strategy
developed before I came on board; my job has been to initiate
And in the less than two years he’s been at the YMCA, Espino
has made some significant inroads. He’s spearheaded an
information campaign targeted toward a wide range of stakeholders
and created an advisory group to help recommend and implement key
But perhaps Espino’s biggest contribution has been in
building partnerships, first at the Red Cross and now at the YMCA.
He was instrumental in the creation of the United States
Lifeguard Standards Coalition, and the success he’s
having with the YMCA is garnering international attention. Espino
points to the e-mails he’s received from aquatics
professionals outside the United States as evidence of the global
impact of the initiatives he’s helped put in place.