As a student at Auburn University, Justin Caron was a six-time All-American. As swim team captain his junior and senior years, he helped lead his team to a national title. Now he is on his way to becoming an aquatics leader in another way, as an associate at Aquatic Design Group in Carlsbad, Calif.

The 31-year-old joined the company in 2005 after his former coach recommended him for the position. Today Caron “does a little bit of everything,” he says. His responsibilities include project management, feasibility studies, business development and marketing.

The experience as a competitive swimmer has helped Caron on a number of projects, including facilities at the University of Colorado, Stanford University, San Jose State and California State University, Northridge.

“I think it really helps me understand what people who use the pool need and want,” says Caron, who graduated with degrees in psychology and communications, and also holds an MBA from Capella University.

For him, that sentiment is especially true when it comes to making aquatics accessible for those with special needs.

While at Auburn one of his teammates was Dave Denniston, an NCCA champion in the 200-meter breast stroke who was on track to compete in the Olympics. Denniston just missed qualifying in 2004, and in 2005 he was in a sledding accident that caused permanent paralysis of his lower body.

Caron connected with Denniston when he moved from Virginia to California and took the job at Aquatic Design Group. He helped his former teammate get back into the pool through aquatic rehab, and in 2010 Denniston was named coaching fellow for the Paralympic Swimming Resident Program.

Watching Denniston’s experience, Caron says he discovered a passion for advocating more inclusive facilities.

“Even if [facilities] abide by the letter [of the ADA], they don’t always abide by the spirit of the law,” he says.

Looking ahead, he hopes to focus on finding innovative design solutions that will begin to change that.

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