“A multi-tasking role model and advocate who carries a life-saving message and the imperative of diversity into regions and disciplines never before imagined …” Tha ’s how Shaun Anderson was described in front of the U.S. House of Representatives last year.
Rep. Chaka Fattah (D - Pa.) was recognizing him for his efforts to
address the global drowning epidemic. In 2008 Anderson co-founded
the nonprofit Diversity in Aquatics, and that’s just the
In 2009 he was hired by USA Swimming as a diversity consultant,
responsible for developing and implementing programs for
underserved communities. He is also a faculty member in the
Department of Health, Physical Education and Exercise Science at
Norfolk State University.
At the Diversity Aquatics Network, Anderson’s
“partner-in-prevention” is Jayson Jackson. The two met
as student athletes at Pennsylvania State University, where Anderson was a
swimmer and ran track. He graduated in 2001 and also holds an MBA
from California State University, Long Beach.
Anderson, 33, started swimming very young, and says it was meeting
Wanda Butts, a Toledo, Ohio woman who lost her son to drowning,
that was one impetus for Diversity in Aquatics. To honor her
son’s memory, Butts startedThe Josh Project
a nonprofit organization that works to promote water safety and
swim lessons among local minority communities.
Both organizations provide information and education to address the
needs and concerns of minority parents and help them get their
children in swim lessons. Like The Josh Project, Diversity in
Aquatics started small, but thanks to the power of social
networking and online communication, it is now viewed in more than
To that end, on May 15, Diversity in Aquatics will launch the first
International Water Safety Day. The goal is to raise
awareness about the need for water safety and address the fact that
drowning is the third leading cause of accidental death worldwide,
as indicated by the World Health Organization.
“We’ve started to realize it is so much bigger than
just swimming,” Anderson says.