We are witnessing a pivotal time for water safety and drowning prevention efforts.

The water-safety community has never lacked passion. People willing to devote their careers and spare time to reducing drowning have resulted in the passage of federal water-safety legislation, countless state and local laws, as well as the increased education of government officials, media, parents and children.

But for a long while, it fell short in the area of cohesiveness. Organizations and foundations would spring up all the time, with similar if not identical goals. For the most part, each worked independently, resulting in redundancy and repetition of labor.

Leaders in the water-safety advocacy community noticed this and made intentional moves toward bringing likeminded individuals and organizations together (witness groups with words such as “alliance” and “united” in their names). Lately the results have become more concrete than ever through a number of programs and initiatives — most recently, the release of the U.S. National Water Safety Action Plan and the California Water Safety Strategy last year, along with several states currently writing strategies tailored to their own populace and how it interacts with water.

This increased collaboration results from years of effort by hundreds of individuals and has taken place not only within water-safety organizations, but also between the water-safety community and the pool, spa and aquatics industries.

And all this time, foundations begun by the surviving families of drowning victims have carved their place in the landscape, both in the local communities they serve and in the mission to prevent drowning on a national scale.

Through these collaborations, certain truths came into even more stark relief than before: We suffer a severe shortage of data that could help identify causes of drowning and act to prevent them; water safety needs to become ingrained into the culture; and that one size does not fit all when it comes to approaching water safety — indeed, best practices will change with each region, depending on the kinds of water bodies present and how the citizenry uses them.

Many, many individuals and organizations have brought us to this point. It’s been an unflagging movement for decades, and many of its pioneers and superstars have been highlighted in past Power Issues. For this year’s Power Issue, we recognize eight pairs and individuals who have spurred this most recent surge of progress but heretofore have gone unrecognized on these pages. We look at the personal stories that got them on the path, the strategies they employed and the impact they’ve had.

We've featured profiles of four of the recipients this month. Watch next time to learn more about the remaining four.

This year's Power Award recipients are:

- Karen Cohn and Megan Ferraro, the ZAC Foundation- Julie Lopiccolo and Jonathan St. Clair, Jasper Ray Foundation for Drowning Prevention and Child Safety
- Will Koon, the Royal Lifesaving Society, Australia
- Pam Cannell, National Drowning Prevention Alliance
- Alissa Magrum, Colin's Hope and Families United to Prevent Drowning
- Bill Ramos, Ph.D., the American Red Cross
- Justin Wiley, the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance
- Alison Petri, Abbey's Hope

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