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Ask Tom Lachocki how the world works, and he’s likely to explain it in terms of chemical equations and bonds and ions that can leave you scratching your head. But his boyish glee for chemistry, wealth of knowledge about everything pool and science related, and permanent smile make it easy to understand why he was elected CEO of the National Spa and Pool Foundation.

Armed with a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Louisiana State University, Lachocki began his aquatics career in 1994, when he landed a job at BioLab’s aquatic chemical department as a senior researcher. He spent nine years working there, eventually moving into product development.

During that time, he volunteered as a Certified Pool Operator instructor for three years, after his company wanted staff instructors to train employees. He also volunteered with the National Pool and Spa Institute for eight years, on the Recreational Water Quality Committee, Technical Committee, and Public Pool Standards Committee.

The 43-year-old Lachocki is a first-generation American, the son of Polish parents who were shipped to different parts of the Soviet Union before settling in England during World War II. In the early 1950s, they immigrated to the United States, and consider themselves lucky to be in America. “If I ever complain about, say, taxes, my parents will tell me I should feel good about paying taxes to live the American dream,” Lachocki says. “It gives me the chance to have a big impact on the world.”

He followed his own dream to make that impact in the world. In 2003 he was asked to become CEO for NSPF. Since taking over, Lachocki has already overseen two major feats: publication of the long-overdue CPO manual update and a health conference that still has the industry buzzing.

And Lachocki’s just getting started. His larger goal is to grow the industry by showing how aquatics can benefit everyone’s health and happiness. Part of that will be accomplished through NSPF-funded research showing the benefits of swimming. But most of it will be accomplished through simple leadership.

“My goal is to influence the world so that instead of one billion swimming events a year in the U.S., there’s 10 billion,” Lachocki says. “It’s a very lofty goal, but it’s good to have lofty goals.”

Lachocki points out that encouraging swimming as a regular activity combats childhood diabetes, obesity, heart disease and all other health conditions brought on by lack of exercise. Because NSPF is non-profit, he says the tax-exempt organization has even more responsibility to help the public.

“Our goal is to get more people to exercise,” he says.“Understand the benefits of exercise, promote aquatic exercise, and have an impact on the overall health of the nation.”