Tom Griffiths has a lot of wishes.
“I wish people would question water-safety textbooks and
training agencies,” he says. “I would really like it
if, when they hear a statement, to ask why. I would like to see the
aquatics professionals use a true inter-disciplinary approach to
the 56-year-old Griffiths is looking forward to retiring in four
years, he does not plan to stop wishing — and working. In
fact, upon retirement from Penn State University, where he serves
as aquatics director, he plans to do more reading and writing on
the subject of aquatic safety and operations.
A big focus:
the disconnect between science and aquatic safety. “I’m
going to sound overly critical and cynical,” he warns.
“While we’ve done many good things in the last hundred
years, we fail to look to science. When someone does bring up a
medical fact or a scientific discovery that may shed light on water
safety … the water safety community questions
his message through teaching courses at conferences and taking
posts such as president of the National Park & Recreation
Association’s Aquatic Branch. He serves as an aquatics
consultant and expert for lawsuits involving drownings and
injuries. He has also written numerous articles and published six
regardless of whether it’s a coffee-table book or a technical
treatise, his focus remains the same.
“Aquatics professionals need
to spend more time reading in other areas,” he says.
“What we have is so limited and it’s based on
experiences, not on science. It’s very
takes it upon himself to change that. “I’m hoping,
hoping, hoping that when I’m dead and gone, someone will look
back and say, ‘He had a pretty good idea to look at the
psychology and the physiology of what’s going on
there.’” — Rin-rin Yu